KC Marathon: Double the Fun for Cotter Twins

CotterIdentical twins David and Thomas Cotter have been running together for almost 20 years, ever since they started tagging along with their Dad on his daily runs at the age of eight.  They would do a walk/jog most of the route, which gave their Dad time to run ahead, circle back and check on them.  In fact, when they were infants and toddlers, their Dad took the boys on his runs in a double stroller.  As they grew, the double stroller was replaced by bikes.

While in grade school, the Cotter boys participated on the Catholic Youth Organization track and field program where they ran different races so they could rack up as many first place ribbons as possible.  The only time they ran together was on a relay team so they could push each other.

“My goal since we were little wasn’t to try and beat my brother, my goal was that we would both do equally as well,” said David. “It is never a competitive thing, it is not wanting to let the other down.”

Their parents instilled in them the importance of a healthy lifestyle and running became part of that lifestyle.  But it isn’t just the Cotter Boys and their Dad who run.  Older sisters Alison and Katie both ran cross country in high school and Alison’s team won State Cross Country her senior year.  David and Thomas both ran cross country and track in high school and college.

Cotter_Twins_Finish_2011This year they are registered for the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon with Ivy Funds.  This will be their fifth full marathon where they hope to keep an 8-8:30 minute mile.  David has run all his full marathons at the Kansas City Marathon and Thomas recently ran the Des Moines Marathon leaving David to run the KC Marathon alone one year.

Growing up around 73rd and Ward Parkway in Kansas City, the Cotters lived along a large portion of the Kansas City Marathon route, which David says they considered their “home course.”  They used to run countless miles down Ward Parkway, around the Country Club Plaza and into the Waldo District.  Now they live in different cities.  Thomas lives in Des Moines where he coaches middle and high school cross country and track and David lives in Lee’s Summit where he sometimes trains with his Dad, Kirby.

To stay on track with their training for the marathon, they follow the training plan provided on the Kansas City Marathon website.  They communicate on a daily basis through text, calls, and FaceTime.

“Living in different states is difficult but we typically plan out the time of the run the night before and make sure to text each other when we leave and when we are done,” said Thomas.  Starting in July they always have one hill day, a track workout and a long run at a minimum every week.

“We haven’t always enjoyed distance running as much as we do now,” said Thomas. “Growing up and in college, we were sprinters.”

Cotter_Twins_RunningThe first time they decided to tackle the marathon distance, during high school, they were working at a school that was logging miles as a challenge to see who was the fittest.  They decided to sign up for the Kansas City Marathon just two weeks before the race.

“We went in and ran completely out of shape.  We hit the wall that day way too early, at about mile 14 and struggled our way to the finish line the rest of the day,” said David.

“At our first marathon we ate quite a meal before the race and did not allow enough time to use the bathroom,” said Thomas.  “The lines were so long that we ended up begging a gas station to let us use their facilities without any shirts on about 8 miles into the race.”

They admit there were lots of mistakes made in that first marathon include going too fast at the beginning of the race.  “We didn’t realize how crucial it was to stick to your goal time,” said David.

Since they live in different states, the Cotters typically pick races that work for both their schedules and allows them to be with family.  The Kansas City Marathon always keeps them working towards something throughout the summer months.  Besides always wanting to run the Kansas City Marathon, they both want to tackle the I-35 Challenge, Boston Marathon and Chicago Marathon.  David would like to also take the Disney “Goofy” Challenge.

When at the Kansas City Marathon, while David and Thomas are running, their parents are busy as volunteers.  Kirby and Bridget have volunteered three years as course monitors near Loose Park.  Bridget’s brother and sister-in-law and David’s wife have volunteered over the years.

Cotter_Family_2011“Volunteering early in the course enabled us to ring a cow bell and cheer on all runners, watch our boys and distribute Starburst candies unwrapped and ready to grab, and still make it downtown to see David and Thomas finish, said Bridget.

Besides volunteering, Kirby has run several half marathons and daughters Katie and Alison, with their husbands, have run the KC Half Marathon along with the Disney Half Marathon.

When asked what kind of advice they would give someone starting to run, they gave this advice:

David: At the beginning, take your time and enjoy the first marathon.  I’ll always remember my first one.  Now that I’m getting more serious about training and mileage, I am enjoying seeing my results, but they don’t come instantly.

Thomas: I hear a lot of people say they don’t think they can do a half marathon.  Not true!  We have met all types of runners throughout every marathon we have run and while they are never easy getting to the finish line, it is worth all of the logged miles.


By Marla Hanover, Communications & Social Media Manager