More than 220 runners braved cold temperatures on Oct. 7, to run in honor of the 19 Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers who died while serving their country, at the sixth annual 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) Fallen Heroes Half Marathon in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Fallen Heroes Half Marathon started in 2011, while the 45th IBCT was deployed to Afghanistan, as a way to honor the sacrifice of the 14 Soldiers killed during that deployment.
Since then, the half marathon has grown to honor all 19 Oklahoma Citizen-Soldiers killed while serving overseas.
Set-up for this year’s half marathon began in the predawn hours when volunteers gathered at the start and finish point across Interstate-35 from the Brigade headquarters.
The route took runners through Norman, where Norman Police officers blocked traffic at major intersections. As runners passed by the officers, many took time to thank them for supporting the race.
Throughout the race, participants were reminded of its purpose. From the starting line to the finish, large banners with photos and biographies of the 19 fallen Citizen-Soldiers dotted the route.
This year, medals were given to finishers and Pfc. Brandon Hurst of Tonkawa, Oklahoma, claimed first place with a time of 1 hour, 22 minutes and 34 seconds.
Hurst, a Soldier with 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th IBCT and a student at Northern Oklahoma College, said he joined the 45th this summer and found out about the race through an officer in his unit.
“You’re in pain, but at every mile marker you see their faces, and it reminds you,” Hurst said. “It reminds about their sacrifices and what they’ve done for us.”
Hurst was a college runner before joining the National Guard and was afraid running would become a distant memory. However, he said it has taken him to new heights after getting in touch with the OKARNG marathon team.
“During the run, I got a little emotional after I started pulling away because I got to actually settle down and take a good look at the mile marker dedications to each Soldier,” Hurst said. “It gave me goose bumps to see [the dedications to] everyone who sacrificed their lives for us and it definitely made me more proud to wear the uniform and give thanks for being able to do the things that I do at the end of the day."
Finishing a little more than two minutes behind Hurst was Sam Stalcup, a volunteer cross country coach for Midwest City Schools.
“The atmosphere is great,” Stalcup said. “I’m proud to honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives.”
Money raised at the half marathon provides scholarships for the families of the fallen Guardsmen.
For more information about the 45th IBCT Fallen Heroes Half Marathon, visit www.45ibctfallenheroes.org.
|Date Posted:||10.11.2016 09:32|
|Location:||NORMAN, OK, US|
|Hometown:||OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, US|
|Hometown:||TONKAWA, OK, US|
This work, Thunderbirds of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team hosts the sixth annual fallen heroes half marathon, by SGT Anthony Jones, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.