Once again the trail is before them waiting to receive the pounding feet and sweat that drips from determined men and women filled with a passion and mission to bring honor and attention to the fallen heroes from across this country who volunteered for an Armed Forces service that put them directly in harm’s way – and which ultimately cost them their lives.
The Always Brothers 100 mile journey will begin this coming Saturday, July 26 at 6 a.m. and end at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 27. While fundraising for the kids of fallen servicemen/women is a part of this ultra-run that began in 2010 (this year’s recipients being Kylee O’Day, Taylor Heldt, Bodie Dumaw, and Elijah, Laura Bella, and Avery Torian), perhaps an even bigger part of the picture is remembering of all this nation’s fallen such as the fathers of these six children: CPL. Patrick O’Day, LCPL Erik Heldt, CPL. Joshua Dumaw and MSGT. Aaron Torian.
“Few of us are actually runners,” said Always Brothers Co-founder/Treasurer and local Maple Valley resident Dan Neilsen, “We run a lot of miles, but we aren’t ‘runners.’ Our success in running the miles and in administering the run comes not just from our own passion for the mission – to honor our heroes and to do something for their families – but also from the fuel fed to us by the people who cheer us on.”
According to Neilsen, the ultra-run has taken participants through several cities and towns, past farms, industrial parks, city parks, cemeteries and football fields with junior football players stopping their practice to give the Always Brothers runners a standing ovation. Other meaningful memories have included being sprayed with water while running in Ohio in record temps as well as seeing the communities along with their mayors of Pacific and Auburn turning out in the dark of night welcoming runners with open arms. And then there was Virginia that provided foot powder in the middle of the night along with hamburgers – not highly recommended eats in the middle of a 100 mile run.
“We start fresh and fun at the beginning and by the end, together, we are ragged, torn, frustrated, irritable, and in pain,” said Neilsen. “To say we are sore would do no justice to the hurt we really experience. We hurt. We are so tired we can’t sleep and so hungry we can’t eat. Water tastes bad and sport drinks tastes worse – beer tastes great! Through it all—we’ve come back for more. Why? Because of the people in those towns.
“The people we see along the way that let us know, not just that they appreciate us, but that they appreciate the opportunity to say thank you to those we run for. Had we not run through their town at the moment we do – would these communities band together to thank the men and women who wear the cloth of our country, and those who’ve died doing it? Would they get the chance to say ‘Thank you’ to a Gold Star Father who traveled across the country to endure the pain with us? Maybe or maybe not, but the fact that we’ve created that opportunity, seen it unfold and actually witnessed relationships being made and even been a part of them, makes it worth it.”
Another important aspect of meeting up with the communities we run through – especially in the middle of the night when all a runner’s energy seems completely drained – is the boost that is given to the runners to continue traveling down the trail before them.
As stated by Neilsen, “It gives us that extra step. That energy you need when you think you have none. We’ve found that when the energy seems to not exist, we can be fueled by that thing deep inside you that will keep you going – it’s there. It works for you and allows you to move. For me, it’s brought on by the cheers, the claps, the tears, the high fives and the hugs.”
Continuing on to explain the importance of the run which honors the fallen for all Armed Forces services Neilsen said, “This year we run for our fallen from across the country. The fundraising is important and we have high goals to raise money for the children of our fallen. But we will not forget the soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and coasties who died in service to our country. Married or not, with or without children—those men and women were someone’s son, daughter and best friend. They left someone behind, they’ll be remembered for something funny they did, something helpful, and some struggle they’ve endured.
“They should also be remembered for something heroic. For doing something that no one ‘HAS’ to do anymore, and something that few people choose to do – to volunteer for a service that will put them directly in harm’s way and for directly taking that on. To us, it’s worth that pain to show that we care, and to see that you do too.”
Following is an approximate schedule as to when the runners will be coming through the various areas. For more up-to-date information, follow the 100-Mile Ultra-Run from start through finish on Facebook at www.facebook.com/alwaysbrothers - Updates will be posted throughout the 24-plus hour ultra-run Saturday, July 26-Sunday, July 27:
6 a.m. Start Seattle (Leshi Marina, 100 Lakeside Ave.)
6:15 a.m. Mercer Island Bridge
7:15 a.m. Mercer Island (I-90 Trail near Luther Burbank Park)
8:30 a.m. Renton (Seahawks Training Facility – Rest Break)
10 a.m. Renton (Cedar River Dog Park)
1 p.m. St. George Episcopal Church
1:30 p.m. Maple Valley (Thrive Community Fitness)
2 p.m. Black Diamond
4 p.m. Enumclaw (Veterans Memorial Park)
5 p.m. Buckley (Veterans Memorial Park)
5:45 p.m. South Prairie Fire Department
7 p.m. Orting, 1 hour break (45 minute Break)
10:45 p.m. Sumner (East Puyallup Foothills Trailhead)
12:45 a.m. Pacific (Start of Night Operations)
1:45 a.m. Auburn (Interurban Trailhead)
2:30 a.m. Kent (Foster Park & Lions Skate Park)
5 a.m. South Park/Cloverdale (Duwamish Bikeway)
6 a.m. Tukwila (Cecil Moses Park)
7 a.m. West Seattle (West Seattle Bridge – Seattle Police Department Escort)
9:30 a.m. Seattle (CenturyLink – At the Plaza between the Stadium and the Event Center on
Everyone is invited to cheer the runners along the way and especially to welcome them to their end point in Seattle by CenturyLink Field.Please stay tuned to the runners’ progress and to get a more accurate update on arrival times by “Liking” the Always Brothers Facebook page at www.facebook.com/alwaysbrothers