The look of sheer determination on Matt Kenney’s face Friday said it all: I will summit Mount Marathon.
“Perseverance, just to finish what I couldn’t start that day,” Kenney said.
That day was July 4, 2012. He slipped and fell more than 30 feet on the mountain and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Doctors told him he would never walk or talk. It took months of rehabilitation in Colorado and months climbing with friends to get him to where he is today.
Two years after he nearly died, Kenney came back to finish what he started.
“The only part that will never go away is my drive for today and that’s part of me you don’t turn off,” Kenney said.
He didn’t climb for time. He was there for himself, his family and the running community that helped him recover. His final time was two hours and 20 minutes. But that was a moot point compared to the reception at the finish line.
“I was looking forward to it, going through the rocks where I had my accident two years ago. I was looking forward to the people at the bottom screaming,” he said.
A kiss from his wife Gretchen is more precious than any race victory.
“To come back to this today, you can’t explain the feeling,” she said.
Kenney today has different priorities than Kenney two years ago.
“My wife is my best friend. She knew I could do this,” he said.
He crossed the finish line, thanks to his family.
“This is his passion, what he does and what he loves. This is his art, his canvass and I let him do it,” Gretchen said.
Kenney will take one day off, then it’s back to training on Sunday. He plans to run the Alpine Adventure Run in Sitka in two weeks. And of course, he’ll be back on Mount Marathon next year, and for many years to follow.