When Lucas McAneney's wife bought him a stroller for his infant son Sutton, he was hoping it would help his little one fall asleep.
Two years later, McAneney was crossing the finish line of the Buffalo Marathon before anyone else — while pushing a sleepy Sutton in that very same stroller.
"It's the year a two-year-old won the marathon, sleeping," joked the 35-year-old who lives in Hamilton's Waterdown area.
McAneney said he's been running competitively for most of his life but took a break when Sutton was born.
Then in early 2019, McAneney said he picked up running again and he took his son with him in a stroller. He said his wife eventually bought a proper running stroller as an early Father's Day gift. Soon after, the pandemic hit.
"Ninety per cent of my runs since the pandemic started have been with him. He's been my training partner throughout the whole thing," McAneney told CBC Hamilton.
McAneney became so confident running with Sutton, he attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest time running a marathon while pushing a stroller, a record held by Canadian Calum Neff.
Greg Weber, the marathon's executive director, said he was confident McAneney could break the record and made an exception to the rules to allow McAneney to run with the stroller.
Sutton crossed the finish line first
Weber said running with a stroller would undoubtedly put McAneney at a disadvantage even if the stroller moved well but said McAneney was "motoring," running at a pace of three minutes and 38 seconds per kilometre.
McAneney said, during the run, Sutton would point out all the police cars and ambulances they passed.
"He's never spoken more during a run than he did at the Buffalo Marathon and I've never talked more in a marathon … it was two and a half hours of fun," he said.
McAneney didn't beat the record, but ran the marathon in two hours, 33 minutes and 32 seconds. He finished the race, with Sutton — by then nodding off — 16 seconds ahead of the next runner.
"The fact we were able to pull it off and win the race was an icing on the cake and made that a much better story and memory Sutton and I can look back on," he said.
Weber also pointed out while Sutton crossed the finish line first, the rules state you actually have to run the marathon, so his dad is technically the winner.
McAneney said a lot had to go right, like having nice weather, packing everything Sutton needed to stay entertained and waking him up at 5:30 a.m. without incident.
"He loved every minute of it … I couldn't imagine it would go that perfectly again," McAneney said.
McAneney said he and Sutton will do more runs together, but he hopes the next time they'll both be on their feet, running side-by-side.
Weber said he hopes it inspires others to run and spend time together.
"I think it's a great testament to a father and a son. I think everybody should look at it and say, 'What can I do?'" Weber said.