Brother team wins marathon with third fastest time Ever

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
(left to right) Andrew “Ducky” Duckworth and Derrick Barber joined their Willard High School cross country coach, Scott Matthews and his brothers Travis and Patrick to compete in, and win, the recent Bass Pro Shops Team Marathon in Springfield. This is the fifth time Team Redneck Runners has competed in the race, and the fourth time they have won it, each time with a different combination of members.
Photo courtesy www.BootheelPhoto.com

In what has become a family tradition, Malden youth Patrick Matthews joined a couple of his brothers to compete in the recent Bass Pro Shops Conservation Weekend Team Marathon on Sunday, November 6. They also took part in another of their traditions and won the race to equal four and match one other group as the winning-est teams in the ten year history of the competition.

By 2011 the Matthews brothers (the six sons of Scott and Ann Matthews, and grandsons of Wanda Matthews, all of Malden) had been competing in various races around the Midwest, generally doing very well or winning, sometimes as individuals, sometimes forming teams with spouses and friends. The brothers were always looking for new challenges and one of the siblings brought up the possibility of forming a team to take part in the Bass Pro Marathon. Although some of the brothers had competed in full Ironman competitions and full marathons (26.2 miles) they knew that the training could be too time-intensive for all their busy siblings, so they settled for the “Friends and Families” category of the Bass Pro Marathon. Each member would run a different portion (two 5Ks, two 10 Ks, and a 12.2K) of the race, which would add up to a full marathon of 42.2K, or 26.2 miles.

They chose the team name, Redneck Runners. Brothers J.B., Travis, and Andy were joined by two friends to form the five-member team the race called for.

A less popular tradition was begun the first year…last minute problems. One team member had vehicle problems in Minnesota the night before the race and wouldn’t be able to make it in time, so youngest brother Patrick had to substitute in. The team won, breaking the old race record in the process.

The next year, Patrick again subbed in and the Redneck Runners won once more, breaking the record they had set the previous year.

The third year, they just couldn’t get enough people to commit to the race, so J.B., second oldest brother, offered to pace Patrick in his first ever half marathon (13.1 miles) portion of the Bass Pro event. Patrick medaled, placing third.

The fourth year, the brothers were joined by oldest brother Scott to form a team consisting of five brothers and competed despite several of them not having enough time to prepare adequately, and finished second in the team’s slowest time yet.

The fifth year fate again dealt a blow as one brother woke up the day before the race with a fever over 100 and had to back out. Unable to find anyone to fill in at the last minute, the brothers were faced with canceling or one of them running two legs of the race instead of one. Since Patrick was only supposed to run one of the 5K portions, he was the most logical one to run two 5Ks, for 10K total. Not only did they win again, but they broke the record once more.

This year, perfect conditions evaded them again. Two weeks before the race, J.B. was crushed when his work schedule was changed so that he wouldn’t be able to get to Springfield in time. Andy had a more pleasant excuse, as the birth of his first child prevented him from training. That wasn’t all, as Travis had to work the day before the race. Since he had the training already under his belt, he wasn’t about to let that stop him. He left straight from work in Oklahoma the evening before the race, checking in to his hotel room after midnight, then getting up at 4 a.m. to get ready for the race. He had committed to work with a children’s church camp on Sunday, so had to leave as soon as he finished his leg of the race. They could use a break.

That break came when Scott, who coaches cross country and track at Willard High School, asked a couple of his better cross country runners if they would like to join their coach and his brothers on the team. Derrick Barber and Andrew “Ducky” Duckworth had just completed the cross country season and were in top shape, so gladly accepted.

When the buzzer sounded to start the competition, Travis quickly took a lead over the other 81 teams and continued to pull away, finishing his 10K in 38:50 for a 6:14 per mile average. He handed off to Derrick Barber who ran his 5K in 18:50, an average of 6:03 per mile. Patrick had trained for a 5K but again stepped up to do a 10K when scheduling forced J.B. to back out. He relieved Barber, and finished his 6.2 mile segment in 39:50, averaging 6:24 per mile. “Ducky” Duckworth took over for the fourth leg, another 5K, and was faced with two of the steepest hills on the course. Thinking the first of the inclines was the only one, he kicked up it, only to find that he had another ¼ mile to go. A true competitor, he gutted up the second hill to hand off to Scott in 19:04, for an impressive 6:08 average. Scott ran the longest distance, 12.2 kilometers (just over 7 miles) in 48:13, averaging 6:17 per mile.

Team Redneck Runners finished in 2:44.47, almost 25 minutes ahead of the second place team which finished in 3:09.

As Ducky and Derrick parted company with the brothers, Scott shouted, “We expect to see you at the family Thanksgiving dinner.”

Hey, it’s a family tradition…like winning.

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