One foot after another. Over and over. For 27 hours and a 100 miles.
That was the experience of Soldiers, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and Marines, active duty and veterans, as they participated in the Always Brothers 100-miler July 26 and 27.
The charity event, in honor of Tyler B. Swisher, a Marine captain who died in Iraq in 2005, began at the Leschi Marina, Seattle, before looping through Puget Sound communities and finishing at Century Link Field.
“Tyler Swisher was an extreme athlete and an extreme individual,” said Daniel Neilsen, co-founder and treasurer of Always Brothers. “We decided we wanted to do something that was worthy of his sacrifice and something we knew he would be proud of.”
Donations to the event went to the education of the children of fallen service members; Patrick O’Day, Joshua Dumaw, Erik Heldt and Aaron Torian, said Paul Gilman, president of Always Brothers.
This year’s event is the first time in the run’s four-year history that Soldiers from JBLM participated, Neilsen said.
“We were looking for our next running event after we tried the Army 10-miler time trial,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Miskulin, a platoon leader with 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, on JBLM.
“We saw 100 miles and it seemed like an interesting idea,” Neilsen said. “We just fell in love with the idea of it and the story behind it and the cause.
“We love that the Army is with us,” Neilsen said. “This is not just Marines, it’s not just our group of Marines; it’s everyone, and having the Army here with us is part of being that band of brotherhood.”
“The boys from the Army — I hate to say this — talk a good game and they back it up,” Gilman said.
The communities along the route greeted the runners with food, drinks and foot aid.
“I’m very proud of the guys who decide to go out and run 100 miles in support of our Marine Corps brothers and fallen Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Brian K. Wortinger, commander of 8-1 Cav. “Anything we can do to remember those who have tragically given their lives, to help connect with the communities around us and enable them to show their support for our fallen heroes.”
The end of the run brought a mixture of relief and pained expressions.
“It hurts. It hurts a lot. At first we’re fresh, it’s fun, we’re having a good time, but after about 20 miles or so it starts setting in,” Neilsen said. “Mile 40, 50, and 60 it starts getting rough, painful and tiring.”
“I’ve had two IVs and I’m still tired,” Miskulin said.
The event served as reminder about how the Army and Marines can work together for a good cause.
“The Army team did a great job in working with the Marine team — it was a great accomplishment all around for everybody,” Miskulin said.
“We start together, and we end together,” Neilsen said. “There’s a purpose for that: it’s the brotherhood we share, whether you’re in the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, or any other service.”