Brownsburg Runner Goes the Distance to Honor Late Wife

In 2019, Alex Baker of Brownsburg had it all – a wife of eight years and a 3-year-old son. Then, tragedy struck – Baker’s wife, Amanda, was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, and after chemotherapy, radiation and 16 months of excruciating pain, she passed away in February of 2019.

“You never expect this to happen in your mid-30s,” Baker said. “You should never have to tell your 4-year-old that their mom has died.”

As a young single dad, Baker went through many of the struggles expected when losing a loved one. He had been the primary caregiver for Amanda and was left trying to figure out how to care of his son, Riley, in the best possible way.

Husband, wife, and child in a posed photo in a forest
Alex Baker with his late wife Amanda and their son Riley


Baker admittedly set aside his own needs. He wasn’t exercising, eating healthy or taking care of himself.

After a friend told him, “You don’t move on, you move forward,” Baker took the first step toward creating the life he wanted for himself and Riley.

Exercise Inc in Brownsburg offers a 20-minute workout once per week, and Baker thought he could surely find 20 minutes.

“I told the gentleman at Exercise Inc that my son shouldn’t lose another parent because I can’t find time to exercise, eat right or make better choices,” Baker said.

They inspired him by creating small benchmarks each week.

“It’s just a lot of little changes,” he said. “This week, drink more water. Next week, eat more vegetables. You look up 20 weeks later and you’ve changed all these habits. It worked for me, and I had stopped eating fast food and drinking soda.”

He lost an initial 25 pounds and was on a forward-thinking path, and then the pandemic hit, slowing everything down for everyone.

“I became sort of stagnant and really needed to get out of the house, so I started walking,” he said. “I started small and added a little more each day. The Indianapolis 500 Mile Challenge had begun that summer. I decided I was going to do it and I just focused on walking a mile each day, building up to several miles per day.”

He completed the challenge and didn’t stop there. “I thought, ‘If I can walk 500 miles, could I run?’” he said. “It’s something I could never do. There was no way.”

He found another challenge – run 100 miles over the course of one month – and did it again.

“As we moved into 2021 I started hiking, running 10 miles at a time, and coming up on the second anniversary of Amanda’s passing, I decided I’d run a half marathon,” Baker said. “It was something I never thought was possible for me.”

It hasn’t been without setbacks. Baker credits Athletico Physical Therapy for getting him back on his feet after a running injury. They gave him a “tune-up” and relieved the pain for someone putting 20 to 40 miles on their feet each week.

He ran that half marathon, and since then has completed four half marathons. That accomplishment led to completion of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, which is a full marathon, and Baker hired a running coach to help with future plans.

Man running a marathon and looking happy
Brownsburg resident Alex Baker running the NYC Marathon

Today Baker has a new goal in mind, and he’s joining an elite group of marathoners.

The Abbott World Marathon Majors consists of the six largest marathons in the world: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. Baker completed the New York City Marathon in the fall of 2023 and the legendary Boston Marathon in the spring of 2024. He will participate in the Chicago Marathon in the dall.

“My goal is to finish the U.S. ones by the time I’m 40,” says Baker. “Then complete the remaining international ones in the coming years after that. Only 12,000 people have completed all six.”

In honor of Amanda, Baker raised $6,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during the New York City Marathon, and will raise funds for charity again as he pursues the other five world majors.

While Baker has lost weight, is physically fit and continues to meet the goals he sets for himself, the mission is larger than just the physical benefits.

He became aware throughout his journey of the many people listening and watching – the people on the sidelines cheering him on.

“I’m told it’s inspiring,” Baker said. “So many of us struggle with grief and loss. We struggle to get out of bed or move forward, and I do this in honor of Amanda. She loved the song ‘Strong All Along’ by 311 and I had some wristbands made with that saying. I’ve had temporary tattoos put on my arm with her handwriting to remind myself I can get through this.”

Riley is now 9 and is proud to see the accomplishments his dad has made. He knows the marathons are in honor of his mom, and in a way it keeps her memory alive.

“It was painful and terrible to watch,” Baker said. “Amanda died a week after our 10-year anniversary. Losing your mom at 4 years old forever changes you, but through this we’re able to remember, we tell stories about her and we never forget.”

The daily runs have reminded Baker to take time for himself. They’ve also reminded him that he can undertake hard tasks, and he’s an example for his son that Amanda would be proud of.

“I think Amanda would have been a fantastic cheerleader for me,” he said. “She knew if I set my mind to do it, I’d be dedicated. She’d encourage and push and help me get there, but five years ago if you told her this is what I was going to do, she would have laughed at you. The personal growth has been so important. For some it’s reading or learning a new skill. For me, running has been so instrumental to who I am today, I don’t expect it to go away any time soon.”

Dad and son after a 5K race
Alex Baker and his son run a 5K

It’s hard to say what his next steps will be after he completes the marathons, but he hopes to continue sharing the message of hope and perseverance through difficult times.

Visit to donate toward Baker’s marathon fundraising events.

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