Feb 18, 2020

Diapers, Naps, and Miles: Tyler McCandless' Family Running

By Anna Hightower 

The day Levi McCandless entered the world was the day his dad Tyler changed how he thought about his running career forever. 

McCandless ran in both the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon. He finished in the middle of the pack in 2012, and in 2016, heat exhaustion forced him to drop out. But this time around, he says he’s racing for more than just himself. McCandless and his wife will have their seven-month-old son Levi with them at the trials. He may give his dad the push over the finish line he’s been looking for. 

“It’s like all of my emotional energy is to my son Levi,” said McCandless, but at the Pensacola Half Marathon, “I went out and ran one of the best half marathons I ever have.”

Having an infant has changed all aspects of his life. Even training. McCandless and his wife are both runners, so while their son is napping, they are able to run on side-by-side treadmills in their home. The runs have become their time to talk, although sometimes there are interruptions.

 “[Levi] was putting his hands through the rails of the crib, so at mile two, I jumped off and ran upstairs and was able to put him back in the middle of the crib,” McCandless said. 

For the McCandless family, having a professional runner -- sponsored by both Altra Running for shoes and  Rabbit for apparel -- in the family has gone from extra income to something that they can now use to support their son. Running has changed from a hobby to a job, it’s given McCandless more passion than he thought he could have for the sport. 

“It’s just having way more purpose and mission in your running when you’re a father and you know that you’re at least partially supporting him off of your running,” McCandless said. 

McCandless qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in the 2017 California International Marathon with a time of 2:12:28. Tyler had no idea then he would be running with a different passion in February 2020.  

While some people might think having a seven-month-old would disturb a runner before the race, McCandless says it is exactly the opposite. Enjoying the day with his son and wife allows him to not overthink the race. His wife Kristin says that when Tyler is with Levi he is in full dad mode, and it allows him to put his all into his races. 

“Having Levi keeps me competing to the best of [my] abilities for the right reasons,” McCandless said.  

Leading up to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon, Atlanta Track Club partnered with the Grady Sports Media program at the University of Georgia to profile some of the competitors in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. The authors of these stories are undergraduate students enrolled in the program and have been lightly edited by the Club. See all of the stories at https://www.atlanta2020trials.com/news/uga-trials-project.