Richard Doran’s Comeback Story

Boston Marathoner Overcomes Serious Injury to Reach Starting Line

By Marie Torto, Staff (see original story)

After a devastating accident, Richard Doran didn’t know if he would ever walk, never mind run, again. Last May, during the Hoppin Mad Mud Run in Amesbury, Doran dove into a shallow mud pit and knew immediately that something was wrong.

“For reasons I may never understand, I thought it would be a good idea to dive into the mud pit,” said Doran, 63, who lives in Dedham. “I felt an electric shock through my shoulders and even though I could get myself on my hands and knees, I needed support to move otherwise.”

After an ambulance ride to Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport, Doran said that the injury was severe enough for the doctors to send him to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. There, Doran endured more tests to determine was what wrong.

“We found out that I fractured C-4 and C-5 of my cervical spine, right behind my throat. And because of the injury, fractured pieces had fallen into my spine,” said Doran. “The prognosis was pretty poor, and the doctors told my wife that I may never walk again.”

Doran had to have surgery to remove the rogue fractured pieces and stabilize his neck. When he woke up in the ICU, Doran said that he could move the right side of his body.

“It was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.

Doran’s recovery began immediately. He had a second surgery to realign his neck with titanium rods, but a few days later, he was already up and slowing walking around the hospital. By the next week, Doran was off pain medication and back at work.

“I was determined and just kept walking,” said Doran. “Seven weeks and three days later, in July, I felt strong enough to jog. So I did. From that point on, I’ve just been building. I have a little bit of weakness on the left side, but other than that, I feel good.”

Almost one year later and on the fast-track to recovery, this year’s Boston Marathon will be Doran’s first.

“My goal for Boston is to be vertical,” Doran joked. “Given my training, I’m hoping to finish in about 4:45. It’s not my best time, but it’s good enough for now.”

A member of the Thirsty Irish Running Club, Doran was given its invitational number for this year’s race. He said that despite the setbacks caused by the accident, he feels fortunate to be able to take part in such a monumental event.

“This race means everything to me,” said Doran. “It’s the culmination of my recovery and running in general means so much to me. I’ve been running for 35 years and it’s seen me through a lot of tough times. Being able to run Boston, it’s hard to say how much it means to me, I just love it. Now I’m kind of waiting around for marathon day so I can go do it!”