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Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon: How the marathon sparked the change that led to David Brown's 'The Biggest Loser' transformation

David Brown huffed and puffed his way to the finish line at last year’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. But he wasn’t running one of the races. He was walking from the parking lot. That day began Brown’s journey to transform his body.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 26, 2014

David Brown huffed and puffed his way to the finish line at last year’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

But he wasn’t running one of the races.

He was walking from the parking lot.

“How sickening,” Brown thought that day last April. “Here I am to support my wife in this race ... but here I am struggling just to walk up the hill.”

He weighed over 400 pounds. He’d been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He’d started down the path to better health. But as he struggled to get to the marathon finish line, he realized that something had to change.

And change, it has.

This year, Brown will be running the half marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It will put an exclamation mark on a transformative year. The Edmond resident has changed his body and his mind. The same goes for his future. And he did it all on national television.

But it might never have happened if not for last year’s marathon, where wife, Melissa, was running as part of a marathon relay.

“This is by all means my full-circle moment,” Brown said. “I’m going out there to run my own race for the first time ever. How appropriate is it that it’s at the race where it all started?”

His journey to the finish line was much longer than 13.1 miles.

***

David Brown and Andrea Terrill were still working on their college degrees when they got married. He was at Oklahoma City University. She was at Central Oklahoma. They were young. They were short on funds.

Didn’t matter to them.

They were in love.

But in 1992 before they celebrated their first anniversary, Andrea had a seizure. A brain cancer diagnosis would soon follow, along with chemo and drugs.

Andrea beat back the cancer. It went into remission, but nearly a decade later, it returned. Brain cancer. Stage 4.

David sat by Andrea’s bedside the January day in 2002 that she took her last breath, and right before she died, she made him promise that he would take care of their girls. She wouldn’t be there for Jordan and MacKenzie. He had to be.

Of course, he agreed. But in the years after Andrea’s death, David continued the weight gain that began after her first diagnosis. An extra 50 pounds became an extra 100 became an extra 200.

Even after marrying Melissa and having another daughter Trinity, Brown refused to do anything about his weight gain. He told himself that losing weight would take his attention off his family.

“I thought that was the most selfish thing I could do — put myself first,” he said.

Then in the fall of 2012, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

“The doctor basically told me, ‘If you don’t lose weight, your story is going to be too short,’” Brown said.

He found himself at a crossroads that millions of Americans stand at every year — lose weight and get healthy or stay overweight and deal with the possibility of heart disease, stroke and early death.

Brown, who was nearly 450 pounds at his heaviest, decided that he had to lose weight. Over the next six months, he lost 40 pounds. But he was worried; there had been times in the past that he had lost lots of weight, done well for several months, then fallen back into old habits and regained everything.

Something had to change.

“I have to do something so different than I’ve ever done to get past where I failed before,” he resolved.

Not long after making that resolution, he was huffing and puffing toward the finish line at the Memorial Marathon. And not long after that, “The Biggest Loser” came to town.

***

David Brown stood in line at Oklahoma City’s opening casting call for NBC’s popular extreme weight loss show and thought he had no chance of making it. There were nearly a thousand people there. There were slim odds that he’d make a second interview, much less the national cut of 15 people who make the show.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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