Running for a cause

Aug. 12, 2013 @ 10:55 PM

Most of us, if someone suggested going to New York City to help a worthwhile cause, might balk at the thought of spending a day up, a day back in the car or even a few hours on the plane, with all the hassles air travel entails these days.

Well, we might say, it is a good cause – but can we just write a check? New York’s a long way, and, what with that I-95 congestion in the mid-Atlantic corridor – our whines would be endless.

So how about doing that journey on foot? Running, in fact -- and doing it in six days.

That’s what seven Army officers, friends since their days in ROTC at Duke University, are doing right now.  While you’re reading this, one of those seven will be jogging along his four-mile stretch of route before handing it off to another for another four miles, and so on.

They started their ultra relay Sunday afternoon from the quad in front of Duke Chapel. They’ll wind up at One World Trade Center in Manhattan Saturday evening. In between, each of the seven will have covered about 75 miles in those four-mile relay segments.

This is no 9-to-5 affair, either. They’ll be running 24 hours a day, except for brief stops in the Washington, D.C., area. They’ll visit Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C., stop at Walter Reed Medical Center to visit wounded soldiers and they will tour the Pentagon.

The friends are making this run to raise money for The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization formed by Duke alumnus and Navy SEAL Eric Greitens. It helps veterans transition to civilian life after combat. Before they started the run Sunday afternoon, they had raised $25,000 in online donations. 

Phil Cotter, one of the seven, summed up the group’s sentiments Sunday.

“This is a renewed sense of purpose and honor for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” he said. “This is a celebration. A living memorial.”

The other six runners are Seth Brown, Kase Diehl, Jon Harless, Matt Jones, Michael Meehan and Pat Thompson.

Sunday’s send-off included a five-kilometer run to give local runners a chance to run with the soldiers.  Cathy Anna, the coordinator for the kickoff event, talked about why she had become involved.

“It’s almost overwhelming, that people would want to sacrifice themselves for this,” she said.

We share that sentiment. These seven runners have indeed made an overwhelming commitment, one we congratulate them for making, and we wish them a safe trip to New York.