Running a marathon is never easy. But it’s especially hard to run one when you have a heavy heart. Even harder still is to run one while pushing a stroller. But that’s exactly what one heartbroken man did, to honor the son he never got a chance to meet.
Troy Austin is no stranger to running marathons, but he’d never run one quite like the Sunshine Coast Marathon in Australia in August 2017.
The marathon came about a year after Troy’s wife had delivered their son, stillborn at 27 weeks. To honor the child, he ran the full marathon while pushing an empty stroller. He wrote about the experience in a Facebook post, where he explained the intent behind the stroller, which caused some confusion during the race. Multiple spectators and fellow runners joked that Troy had lost his kid, only for the dad to explain that yes, he had. And that was exactly why he was running with the stroller.
“Everytime ‘Hey mate you lost your kid’ it took a good mate beside me to have a chat so my bottom lip didn’t tremble, as I would try think up quick ways of saying yes I have lost my kid and I am not getting him back.”
Some people even jokingly asked for a ride, ignorant of the pain behind Troy’s symbolic gesture.
“T.G would have been 1 1/2 years old and sitting in the pram, however there would be no Legacy, no reason and no knowledge because until we were told he had passed we didn’t have any idea it could happen.” he wrote in an emotional Facebook post.
The bereaved father ran several races in the days after his son’s burial, including the Long Course Triathlon Nationals, Ironman New Zealand, and World Age Group Titles. ‘I trained and kept my mind and body so tired it could not grieve,’ he told Australia’s Daily Mail.
He ran the marathon to raise awareness of stillbirths via T.G.s Legacy, named after his son. ‘Stillbirth isn’t publicised like cancer or the road toll, no one wants to talk about a dead child,’ he said. In the process he also raised funds for Sands Queensland which offers support to those who have lost a baby.
Troy and his wife have since had a second son, but it hasn’t taken away the pain they feel for T.G.’s loss. ‘We have had our second son recently, but that does not take away from how much we miss his big brother and never will. We will never forget TG, for he is our son.’
“I think the empty pram is here to stay…. not empty My son was with us.”