For retired veteran Joseph Baker, running is second nature. During his career in the military, Joseph was deployed overseas in Iraq and stationed at various bases across the United States, including Fort Leonard Wood, MO. Running was not only part of Joseph’s daily training, but also a meaningful activity outside of his required workout schedule.
After retiring from active duty, Joseph continued to run but was plagued by knee pain from the constant impact he took on over the years. Determined to get back in shape, he enlisted his wife Regina as a running partner. The runs quickly became a workout to which Joseph and Regina looked forward. They began to set mini-milestones, leading to the 2011 Go St. Louis Marathon. “We signed up…trained…and ran. This was by far the best time I have ever had running…not because I like running, but because I loved running with my wife.”
Joseph and Regina finished the race together, holding hands across the finish line. Unfortunately, Joseph’s first race would also be his last marathon for a long time. The recurring knee pain he experienced became too intense to bear, and the injuries were diagnosed as more serious than he initially thought. In addition to a torn right ACL, Joseph was forced to undergo a total knee replacement. He was fitted for a titanium replacement in his left knee and a brace on his right leg.
During Joseph’s recovery, Regina signed up for 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon and planned to run with a friend. When her friend suddenly dropped out due to an injury, the reality of watching his wife run the race alone set in for Joseph. “I really wanted to be there for her,” he recounts. “She is my best friend, and I would have it no other way.” Determined to join her, he found that he could maintain a brisk-enough walking pace to finish within the course time limit. “More than anything, I just want to show people it can be done,” he said. “I see a lot of people get injured and give up. I am not that guy.”
On October 27, 2013, Joseph and Regina crossed the finish line together again at the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon.
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