We ran with friends, with strangers, and with fellow countrymen. We carried that flag high. We ran where generals fell, militiamen rose, and we definitely limped, but one way or another, those miles were going to be run.
I was checking out the RunAnyway website as I often do to keep up on things and came across the 450 relay. Without knowing too much about it at that point, I knew it had to be good as it was something Lance, Todd, and RunAnyway were involved with. I initially signed up to run the Bronx leg, but then also signed up to run the Holyoke to Springfield leg after finding out we were short on runners in the area. The morning of the Holyoke leg, I checked in with the local authorities who wanted to provide me a police escort for the first mile. I stood across from the War Memorial Building waiting for Lance, who I would be taking the flag and dog tags from, like a kid waiting for Santa. I remember thinking as I first spotted him, “Oh boy, that’s a REAL flag, on a REAL pole, not some little dinky thing!” Knowing I NEVER run with so much as a tissue in my hand, how in the world would I be able to run and carry that flag? But there was no turning back, the flag had to be carried and with no time to think, I left it up to the “Big Guy Upstairs” to help me with it! Turned out, my police escort did not end after a mile as I ended up being passed from police cruiser to police cruiser for nearly the entire route. What a rush that was, traffic being stopped at every intersection along the way, people stopping to take pictures, waiving, and cheering as they saw the flag. The only little glitch along the way was when I reached the last couple of miles, at the point where the police were out of their jurisdiction and could not escort me any farther, I realized they had led me in the wrong direction! I didn’t care about doing extra miles; I just didn’t know how far I was to my hand off. So the last few miles turned out to be a bit stressful. After stopping a couple of times to ask directions, I saw someone who I quickly realized was Lance and was so happy to see him! We had the ceremonial hand off of the flag to my new friend Jenifer and away I went to drive to the train to get to NYC.