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As we sit down to chat, I notice that Aries and Atlas Brown are both wearing cross-country tee shirts, which piques my curiosity. As identical twin brothers, the similarities stretch far past their shirt selections. I naturally assume a friendly degree of competition exists between them. I cut right to the chase and ask who is faster. While I expected one, if not both, to jump at the chance to express their dominance, I’m surprised when Atlas replies quickly and humbly, sharing that it’s Aries.

Aries and Atlas Brown
On a Parallel Course

Atlas shares that Aries has the best time, adding that he’s often the next competitor to cross the finish line, right on his brother’s heels. While Aries consistently places one slot higher than his brother, only seven seconds separate their personal bests on the cross-country course.

Aries ran the two-mile course in thirteen and a half minutes, whereas Atlas’s best finish is 13:37. Just as I’m ready to completely write off the prospect of a sibling rivalry, Atlas gets the last word. “I actually beat him in four meets before he started beating me.”


Aries and Atlas also run track, with Aries running middle and long distance, whereas Atlas competes in long-distance runs and hurdles. Aries and Atlas also represent two of the four legs of the four-by-one-hundred relay. And while they’re too humble to share willingly, I eventually learn that they’re both conference champions, winning the eight hundred meter and mile runs, respectively.


While many kids choose to run competitively, Aries and Atlas identify as runners. Atlas shares that he wants to run in college. In contrast, Aries hopes to start running marathons and dreams of running in the Olympics.


When not running, they enjoy spending time with family, friends, and one another. “As a twin, I don’t really have to look into a mirror anymore,” laughs Atlas. He becomes more serious and adds, “It’s nice always having someone you can do stuff with and always relate to.”


They both enjoy playing in the band, with one a woodwind, playing the baritone saxophone, and the other in the brass section, playing the three-quarter tuba and sousaphone. Both are looking forward to joining the high school marching band to participate during halftime of an upcoming Pirates football game.


Aries and Atlas enjoy school and playing in the band, but their individual preferences sometimes take shape. One considers science his favorite subject, whereas the other admits that his favorite subject is likely lunch. He later adds that he enjoys math and social studies, as well. Both brothers enjoy occasionally playing video games or watching television but consider reading a good book ‘more addicting.’


While the Brown brothers see themselves continuing to grow as runners, they share that it’s also a large part of their past. They admire individuals who have demonstrated hard work and perseverance by challenging human limits. One such individual is their grandfather, who still holds an Ottawa High School record as a runner. With great pride, they share that the record will never be broken, as it endured up through the time when the Illinois High School Association converted long-distance running from yards to meters. And while their grandfather’s work ethic is an inspiration, and his record can never be broken, I can easily envision a future where Aries or Atlas sets a high school record of their own. Regardless of which brother finishes first, I imagine the other will be on his heels, providing equal measures of competition and support.

It’s nice always having someone you can do stuff with and always relate to.
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