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updated: 7/31/2012 8:15 AM

Running keeps brothers close

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  • Art Sheridan, 52, of Swansea, is seen at the track at Shiloh Middle School in Shiloh, Ill.

    Art Sheridan, 52, of Swansea, is seen at the track at Shiloh Middle School in Shiloh, Ill.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

SWANSEA -- Runner Art Sheridan's sole racing ambition is to beat his brother, Alan.

"Once he started running in `98 or `99, it became each of our goals -- not to lose to the other," said Art, 52, of Swansea. "It doesn't matter if I come in second to last, as long as he comes in last."

Art ran track during high school in Belton, Mo., then picked it up again in 1997.

"I had been running for a while, trying to lose weight. I remember stopping and saying to a neighbor, `I wish there were adult track meets. Running for your health sucks."'

He said, `Why don't you do a 5K (3.1 miles)?' My first race was the old Memorial Hospital 5K in 1997."

Art, who works for Verizon, finished the race, but not the way he would have liked.

"I barely ran the last mile. I had a few hundred yards left. There were two very large ladies walking fast ahead of me. I couldn't catch them. I was 37. I thought to myself, `You may not see 40."'

That was Art's aha moment.

He lost weight, changed his eating habits and got his younger brother into running.

"(Alan) was heavy at the time. I said, `Come on. Some of these races have beer afterward. The first was the Hibernian 5K that Mike Toolen (Running Start owner) sponsored. It was my brother's first 5K."

A couple years later, Alan, 47, who lives in Troy and works for Charter Communications, decided to train for the 2002 Chicago marathon.

"I thought he was nuts," said Art.

Until Alan lost weight and got fast.

"From the time he started training to his first marathon, he lost 50 to 60 pounds," said Art. "He weighed 179 at the marathon."

Not long after, Alan passed Art in a 5K.

"At the Turkey Trot in October, I was a hundred yards behind. `Oh my God, my brother is finally going to beat me.' ... I started thinking maybe there is something to this marathon training."

Art set his sights on the 2005 Memphis marathon, but didn't tell his brother. He even trained with Alan, then waited to sign up until two weeks before.

"I did it in 4:08. He did it in 4:37. That's when I told him, `This marathon stuff is easy."'

But that's not how Art felt.

"I was hurting real bad. When I finished, I thought I may need a doctor. When I took my first sip of beer an hour later, I felt a lot better. I bet I was sore at least a week."

They both did the St. Louis Rock `n' Roll marathon in October 2011 -- although Art wasn't planning to.

"I'd sworn off marathons. Our daughter (Tiffany Sonnenberg) was eight months pregnant (in November 2010). She said, `Dad, I need a goal to help me lose weight. Would you train and run next October?' How do I tell my pregnant daughter no? She and I ran that marathon together. Then my brother decided to run as well. I know we finished 30 to 45 minutes ahead."

Arthur is 5-foot-11. Alan is 6-foot-2.

"He does make a point to tell me he's still taller."

Alan is also 4 1/2 years younger.

"He's always wanted to beat me in everything. He has the little brother syndrome."

But it works both ways.

"I tell him, `You may be getting ready to graduate from Lindenwood, but I got my double major from SIU years ago."'

Besides the good-natured competition and exercise value, running does something else for the brothers.

"We see each other regularly," said Art. "It keeps us connected and together."

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