SEATTLE-- Think about running along Interstate 5 from Olympia to Marysville. It's about a 100-mile stretch. Now think about making that run in a straight shot. A 100-mile run -- the stuff of legends.
It is the stuff of the U.S. Marine. They say once a Marine, always a Marine, and 13 brothers proved that last week, when they set out to run 100 miles ending at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of one of their unit who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Seattle Lawyer Dan Neilsen set out to make that run, he best outlines the experience in this email to KING 5 News:
There were a total of 13 runners for the event, with four of us attempting the entire 100. (Most of us were Marines who stood Presidential Guard duty at Camp David or the White House Communications Agency during the early to mid 90s with Tyler Swisher when he was an enlisted Marine.)
Although I intended to complete all 100 miles, I ended up sitting out three legs of the course over the evening, completing approximately 85 miles. Only one of us completed the entire 100. One guy did 75 miles and another did 70...a number of the pacers ran 30 plus miles--all of them exceeding what they would otherwise do.
I have to say this was the most extraordinary event I've been involved with and am honored to have helped co-found the group, organize and participate in the run. We met a number of great people on the way and were very inspired by those who donated money and who otherwise helped us out, such as last minute (over-nighted) donations from Saucony (13 pairs of shoes, hats, shirts, etc.) and Brooks (hats).
We began the run at 6 am last Thursday in Thurmont, MD and went through the day running (jogging) through the Maryland countryside. At about the half way point at White's Ferry, we received a very motivational reception from hundreds of Virginians who greeted us as soon as we crossed the Potomac River into VA on the ferry. These people apparently heard about us through Facebook and the radio, and were holding signs to cheer us on to keep us putting one foot in front of the other. We had a number of runners from the Loudoun County Roadrunner's Club join us on the run for a few miles and we also had a police escort take us from White's Ferry to the WO&D trail which we would be on through the evening. We even passed a middle school aged football team who were sitting on their helmets waiting for us to pass who then gave us a standing ovation.
When we got to DC at about 7 am Friday morning, we traveled to the Marine Barracks at 8th & I Street, S.E. (where most of us were all stationed) to pick up a group of approximately 30 Guard Marines (the job we once had) to run with us to Arlington National Cemetery at Captain Tyler Swisher's resting place. Tyler's family also joined us in that last leg of the run. When we entered Arlington, there wasn't a dry eye among us as we walked to Tyler's resting place. When we arrived, we said a short prayer and a few words about Tyler's sacrifice and the sacrifice of many others who protect our freedom and we gave a set of Tyler's dog tags, that one of the runners carried with him the entire 100 miles to Tyler's son, Jacob. At one point near the end of our short ceremony, we asked one of Tyler's best friends, a Marine Corps major who escorted Tyler back home from Iraq, and who ran the last 50 miles with us, to say a few words. Just as he started, we had a group of jets, coincidentally fly overhead in a missing man formation. It was truly fitting and absolutely unbelievable.
My understanding is that so far we have raised over $15,000 for the education of Tyler's children.
For more information or to donate visit: Alwaysbrothers.org