This race took place on Labor Day, 5 September 2016 and was located about 1.5 hours north of Birmingham, AL. We registered this race on a whim, FB special for $10, others were able to register for $1 and $5!! We did not attend the expo due to travel time and picked our bibs up […]
This is a story I wrote for work about our experience with the Old Glory Relay:
Local Gulf Power veterans, community members take part in Old Glory Relay
Panama City Beach, Florida – Patriotism and love of country was evident when a group of runners huddled in the early morning darkness Friday, Nov. 4 at the local Harley Davidson shop. While most people were still asleep or on their first cup of coffee, they were planning out the day’s mission … run with one American flag to Port Saint Joe, Florida, a journey of 51 miles.
Part of the 3rd Annual Old Glory Relay sponsored by Team Red White and Blue, the single flag has been carried by many hands and will travel more than 4,200 miles. The journey began Sept. 11 in Seattle, Washington, and will arrive in Tampa, Florida, on Veterans Day.
Sixty-two Team Red, White and Blue chapters throughout the country have been carrying the flag and passing it off to one another as a way to show support for the military and bring awareness to veterans’ issues. The Panama City chapter picked up their leg on day 55 of the cross-country trek.
Rick DelaHaya, a 21-year Air Force veteran and Media Relations supervisor at Gulf Power, said the support for the relay is a stark contrast to the levels of military support in 1983, when he began serving as a radar operator and eventually an air weapons controller.
“The community, especially here in Northwest Florida, has a strong military presence and the community is very supportive of those serving, retirees and veterans,” said DelaHaya. “It hasn’t always been that way. To see the support we received along the way and to be a part of the journey as we ran with ‘Old Glory’ was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Others shared the same sentiment and the relay hit close to home for several of the team members gathered in the pre-dawn light. Team member Carrie Brooks’ dad served in Vietnam and her son is currently in the Air Force as a nuclear technician in Montana.
“We have an obligation to support our veterans,” Brooks said. “It’s our turn to step up and support them. The civilian world needs to step up and help them re-acclimate to a civilian world.”
After the ceremonial unrolling of the flag from the previous team from Fort Walton Beach, eight runners, easily identified by the “Eagle” on their red tank tops or shirts, headed out on the journey escorted by the Panama City Beach police department. Stopping traffic along the way, motorists honked and shouted words of encouragement along the route that proceeded straight east along U.S. 98.
The run, divided into 24, 2-mile legs, took nearly 12 hours to complete and crossed two time zones. The runners were treated like “rock stars” the entire route, receiving flashing-light police escorts from police departments from Panama City Beach, Springfield, Bay County, Mexico Beach and Port Saint Joe.
Each runner had the opportunity to carry the flag at least once during their portion of the relay. Most ran, some walked, but the point of the relay, according to Donnie Starling, development project manager and Las Vegas Captain at Team Red, White and Blue, was about enjoying the journey, connecting with fellow veterans, and being part of a larger community.
“We are connecting veterans and those who served with exercise through social events like this,” said Starling. “This is one of those events that might happen once in a lifetime for many of these veterans and military supporters so we encourage them to interact with the community along the way and with each other. This is their journey.”
Connecting with the community was no more evident than on a long, lonely stretch of U.S. 98 between Mexico Beach and Port Saint Joe. As the temperatures rose throughout the day into the mid-80s and runners were getting tired, a single figure appeared on the side of the road. An elderly woman had stopped her car, got out and stood silently with her hand across her heart as a team of two runners passed her by.
“This one gesture pretty much brought a tear to our eyes,” said DelaHaya, whose fiancé was running alongside him with the American Flag. “This is what this whole run was about in a single moment – support for our military whether still serving or retired. To say the least it was an emotional moment.”
Finally, after nearly 12 hours on the road, team members made the final push into Port Saint Joe. Tired, exhausted and a little sunburnt, 10 of the 20 runners who started the run crested the bridge crossing St. Joseph Bay and ended their part of the relay to the cheers of those gathered to support their efforts.
“It was an amazing journey,” said DelaHaya, who originally signed up for only six miles but ended up running 25 miles. “The relay is scheduled to run the same route next year and I know we will be there.”
This is the third year of the annual trek across the country for Old Glory. Local participants are part of a 10-state, 4,216-mile trek that has seen more than 7,000 people come in contact with Old Glory in some fashion.
In addition to raising awareness about Team RWB and its activities, participants in the relay have raised money for the organization across the country. Last year the relay raised more than $436,000.
To find out more about Team Red, White and Blue or the Old Glory Run, visit their website
I’m not waiting around on this one!! I still have 2 Half Marathons from September to recap, but first…this weekends events!!
We did a last minute sign up for the Inaugural 30A Half Marathon when they offered a $25 discount code on FB, plus who can pass up a race that’s practically in your backyard??!! However, on our run through downtown last week we ‘ran’ into some runnerbuds that told us about a 5k on Saturday that would be on our way to packet pick up for Sunday’s race!! What’s not to like about that??!!
The First Annual Rotary Woods Run 5k…
Start time was 9a at the Panama City Beach Conservation Park, we registered day of so we did not get a shirt or bag. I honestly don’t need another shirt!! It was the first time for this race and they offered a 1 mile fun run, 5k trail…
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Saturday morning I traveled to Pensacola, FL to meet up with the BF and a few Runner Buds for the Gulf Coast Half Marathon on Sunday. It would seem that the biggest part of my day was spent eating and I just had to share this with you!! I arrived around 9am and we immediately […]
Let’s face it…I run a lot…we run a lot.
And you know if you don’t share it to social it “really didn’t happen!”
So we take quite a few “runfies” along the way and share them with our family and friends. Not to brag but to share in our adventures along the way. That is one thing the GF has convinced me to do…the art of taking selfies and even posting DURING a race!
So we have all these pics but where do we post? If we post to Facebook, it’s seen as, “oh there they go again another picture of running!”
Don’t get me wrong. I think Facebook, for what it was intended to do, was at one time a great thing. But i also think it has gotten a little “political” at least for me, and not supportive of us “runners.”
That’s where i believe Instagram fills a void.
The reason i started on Instagram was…well…for work. Being in PR, we are always looking for ways to reach out to our demographics. You have to go to where your followers are!
But it quickly morphed into something different. I was posting my own pics and overtime it grew. And that’s when it happened…more runners started following me. then i followed them. and that’s when Instagram became the place to post…if nothing else because of the support other runners were providing!
Interesting that Facebook has become the choice for political debates, what’swrong with the country, recipe videos, and the latest “teacher slapping a student” viral video. I can’t remember the last time i spent more than 10 minutes scrolling on Facebook. I have a few good friends that i want to keep up with, and of course, family as well.
I think as runners, we are social by nature. And Instagram seems the perfect landing spot for us. It is not only the photos but the relationships you build.
The girlfriend and i have met a lot of people on Instagram first through posting and commenting on pics and then meeting in person! While some think this is creepy, we have formed some very close relationships with people we now think as friends.
and the lessons we have learned can be summarized as follows:
- its all about the pics
- its all about the #hashtags
- its all about the relationships you build
- you get to be yourself
- you can connect with family and friends worldwide.
That being said, which do you prefer and why?
Being retired Air Force, my military brothers and sisters hold a special place in my heart. So whenever we have the opportunity to participate in any way to honor them, we will be there.
Such was the case this past weekend. It started Saturday when we learned the Marine Raider Memorial March was rucking through Panama City on their way to Camp LeJune, North Carolina. The march started in Navarre, Florida, the crash site where seven U.S. Marines and Army National Guardsmen crew members died March 10, 2015 during an Army UH-60 Blackhawk nighttime training mission over Santa Rosa Sound.
In honor of the fallen service members, a team of 14 Marine Raiders and Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Navy Corpsmen, are undertaking an 11-day ruck march spanning approximately 770 miles from the crash site in Navarre, Florida to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The march, titled, the Marine Raider Memorial March will honor the Marines who died and symbolize bringing them back home on the voyage that they were unable to make. The ruckers will be carrying 45-lb. weighted packs, a Marine Raider Flag, and a paddle, the only item that was recovered from the wreckage of the helicopter crash.
The GF’s son is in high school ROTC and members of his class were able to make the 7-mile ruck segment over the Hathaway Bridge and to the Panama City Mall. The young Marine cadets learned something that day about the military…the guiding principles of honoring the fallen and never forgetting…as well as duty, honor and country. I was extremely happy to see them take part in their small way, and bring these Marines home and honor their service.
(Watch the video)
The second opportunity happened just yesterday, March 14, when i had the opportunity to run with Ernie Andrus in Pace, Florida, as he makes his way across the country. Ernie is a 92-year old veteran who is running from San Diego, CA, to Brunswick, GA, to raise funds for the LST 325 Ship Memorial.
Ernie runs three times a week between 6-7 miles and started his journey on Oct. 7, 2013, and hopes to be at the Atlantic Ocean in August 2016 when he turns 93.
We met Ernie at the place where he left off on his last leg and at promptly 7:30 am were out on the roads walking and more importantly, talking. He discussed his trip, the reasons behind it and his service during World War II.
Along the way, he kept his eyes out for change on the road. Apparently he has a very large jar full of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters he has picked up along the way and will put toward the memorial fund.
Ernie really was an inspiration to all, both young and old. The entire time we were walking, drivers were honking for him, shouting “USA!” and “Go Ernie!” Some drivers actually stopped, got out of their cars just to take a photo of him walking down the street. Truly inspiring.
Again, one of the best weekend of Walking with the Patriots!
Source: Monday Must Have…