It’s been a lifetime of aches and pains for 57-year-old Ed Purcell, starting when he was a kid.
In 1967, when he was 5 years old, he was hit by a car and suffered a fractured skull. And that wouldn’t be the last time he suffered a traumatic head injury.
“I’ve died twice in my life. I’ve had three traumatic brain injuries, but I keep on moving,” said the Louisa, Virginia, resident. “I don’t believe in stopping.”
Purcell grew up and joined the Marine Corps. He ran two marathons in 1995, finishing the Los Angeles Marathon before he left the service that year and celebrating his military career by doing the Marine Corps Marathon right after he got out.
Twenty-five years later, he’s ready to run again.
It’s a virtual event this time, but that — and 25 years of aging — aren’t all that’s changed for Purcell. There was also a bad car accident in 2007.
“I messed myself up pretty bad,” he said. “I got pinned in the car, broke my pelvis in two places — 13 bones altogether from the waist down.”
More than a decade later, he still dealt with pain from that crash. In 2019, after repeated infections and surgeries, Purcell decided it was time for Veterans Affairs doctors to remove his right leg and replace it with a prosthetic.
“Someone told me I couldn’t run again,” said Purcell, defiantly. “Well, guess what? You know what? I’m running.”
He admitted that some of the naysayers were even in his own family. But a man who credits a “superior mind and a superior attitude” (as well as love and support from his wife, Penny) will be determined to prove those who doubt him wrong.
For those who believe in him, he hopes he can be inspiring, too.
“When people see me run, that gives them the courage to go out and believe they can do things also,” he said. “You can’t stop me. I don’t believe in quitting. I never quit.”
The virtual Marine Corps Marathon began on Sunday and runs through Nov. 10. It’ll give some people the chance to run not just the marathon, but also the 10K and the 50K races, too.
Purcell plans to run his marathon on Nov. 10 — which is also the Marine Corp’s birthday. He’ll be running with his brother in Virginia Beach.
“I want to run because it’s 25 years later and I’m doing it on a prosthetic leg,” he said.
And no matter how long it actually takes him, you better believe there will be some “oorahs” along the way.
“It will complete my mission,” Purcell said.