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The father-son tandem of Craig and Jason Osborn conjointly cross the finish line at the 2021 Boston Marathon held Oct. 11. Jason, who has autism, has been running races with his father for eight years and the two can be seen throughout Madison on scheduled runs on a weekly basis. Photo Contributed

Hand-In-Hand Father-Son Compete In Boston Marathon

 MADISON- Twenty years ago twin brothers Jason and Evan Osborn were born to Craig and Marsha Osborn who celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this month. Within three years it became evident Jason was suddenly losing his verbal communication skills and doctors diagnosed the young lad with autism. The entire Osborn family took steps to assist Jason, but he had his own agenda, which soon came to be a runner alongside his father in this year’s Boston Marathon.

“He began to run in pre-school and became fascinated by maps and began to explore his surroundings by many times escaping his confines and explore as he felt his surrounding areas held more interest than anything presented to him in a classroom setting,” said Craig.

Ten years ago Craig began running as part of his personal exercise program where he has lost 70 pounds. He was going through a workout program for three years, but wanted to expand his routine and get outdoors. Running was the perfect choice. Jason watched intensely on Craig’s outdoors adventures and Craig saw to have Jason join alongside, which would be a good way to be constructive in getting Jason involved in a more structured way.

Craig soon approached Drew Bell, head track coach at James Clemens High where Jason was attending school. Bell formulated an idea to where Jason would join the squad during runs, but Jason needed shadowing. Fellow students helped when they could, but Craig soon became Jason’s fulltime shadow. Jason became a member of the school’s cross country team and Craig was recruited by Bell to become an assistant coach, which helped in the structured workouts for Jason.

Jason’s first official road race was in August, 2013. “We quickly found a way to communicate through running,” added Craig.

Since that first venture into an actual race, Jason has participated numerous in races including 10 10K and half-marathon distances. His trek through the famed 125th running of the Boston Marathon was his second marathon distance outing.

“At first Jason would sort of get distracted during a race, but he now understands the rules of a race and the ramifications of following those regulations,” said Craig, 62 and retired.

The decision to make the trip to the famed race came from Jason’s incredible time in his first marathon, which was the 2019 Rocket City Marathon. He completed the 26-mile course in 3-hours, 57-minutes. Making Boston was Craig’s second jaunt to Beantown as he ran the world’s most popular marathon in 2015. This trip would certainly be different. On race day, Jason was quiet and paid attention to his immediate surroundings and knew he was in a special place.

The father-son tandem was among 20,000 runners who started the race with only 16,000 finishers. Special need runners started the race after the elite runners took the starting gun blast. Craig and Jason had a game plan- harness Jason to keep their goal of completing the race in four hours. With near perfect weather conditions, the race was flawless for the duo. They took regular water breaks, walked for a short time and then quickly made their way back to the normal planned pace.

“I was always aware of his condition and in the last two to three miles it began to look like Jason may be struggling a bit,” said Craig. “But, as what is best known about the Boston Marathon, the crowds pulled you in and the last one-half mile the course was filled with enthusiastic crowds.”

In memorable style, clutching hands and running side-by-side as they crossed the finish line, where Marsha was waiting, Craig and Jason posted a time of 4:21.

Jason graduated from James Clemens in 2019 and currently holds down a part-time job at Texas Roadhouse Restaurant. The two are nearly inseparable as Craig has incorporated Jason within his physical workouts where they run throughout Madison to a tune of 20-25 miles per week.

Jason has had occupational and speech therapy and loves to go horseback riding on guided rides in nearby Meridianville.

In early November, Craig and Jason were asked to be official ambassadors for the annual Madison Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll 5K a signature fundraising event for the Special Education program of the Madison City Schools. Over 200 runners participated in the race held at Madison City Schools Stadium. Jason was the official starter for the race and handed out medals post-race.

Jason has come a long way in understanding his surroundings and taking to running in a more confined manner than he did as a small boy growing up in Madison.

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