Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Ninth Mile: Kyle’s Mile

It was springtime when Tony Seabolt started sharing about a new race in the Pacific Northwest: Race For A Soldier.  The cause was worth the effort of coordinating something that was definitely bigger than us.

Kyle Marshall Farr came back home “safe” from Iraq, but no so safe. He had PTSD, which sadly claimed his life. His mom, Leslie Mayne, an admirable woman, decided that Kyle’s death would not be in vain. Her mission was to get the necessary reform to help our military men and women suffering PTSD. She was determined to make Race For A Soldier, an instrument to bring awareness to our communities, military, and government that PTSD is a heartbreaking reality costing the lives of our men and women that have served for our freedom.

The excitement of the race was in crescendo with the passing months.  Race For A Soldier shared the progress not only of race events but also of available therapies where race funds will go.

When finally October 16 arrived, all wheels and pulleys were in synch for a perfect race. Hundreds of volunteers have worked to mark this day as the beginning of something truly important. The venue for the race was the gorgeous town of Gig Harbor, and the course one of the prettiest courses I have run.

I put a running team together with the goal of representing our military. Running Force was assembled and each of us would symbolize our forces wearing their colors on race day: Shannon (Army), Susan (Navy), Angie (Air Force), and myself (Marine Corps).  

The opening ceremony was remarkable and after an emotive national anthem we were set to go. The first mile mark was The Mayne Mile, representing Kyle’s mom. As a mother, I can't imagine how she has gone through all this process, but she has, and has gone strong.  The cheerful company along the way was fantastic. The beautiful rolling hills, whether they were steep or not, plus the multitude of volunteers with yellow shirts and American flags flanking the runners, made this one of the greatest races I’ve run. 

Then I got to mile 9. A mile marker that was simply stunning: Kyle’s picture on his football uniform, #9, Kyle’s mile. I had to stop, touch the picture, kneel, and pay a small tribute. If I had run the first nine miles embedded in this race purpose, the four miles left were more emotional now.

Tony was there when I crossed the finish line, we hugged and I felt in that moment Leslie's and race organizers’ success. Tony introduced me to Leslie, and between tears, in a very sincere moment, I only had to say: God Bless You. She hugged me tight and told me, I saw you at mile 9. I could speak no more. She was living proof that there is hope in the face of despair.

May this race be just the beginning of something big to help our military in need. This is beyond Gig Harbor, and beyond Washington State. I see the potential and need for this race going across the country, from north to south and from sea to shining sea.

May all the miles run for our men and women serving in the military symbolize what Race For A Soldier symbolizes: The Ninth Mile: Kyle's Mile.

The Ninth Mile. Kyle's Mile
The Mayne Mile
Team RUNNING FORCE: Sharon (Army), Susan (Navy), Angie (Air Force), Lizzie (Marine Corps)
With Leslie after the race
With Miguel, Race Planner Chief and Coordinator
How wonderful to run a race that means and represents something way bigger than our own little worlds. Leslie, God Bless You. Miguel & Tony, and all volunteers, thank you for such an amazing work. This objective has to cross our country, from north to south, and from sea, to shining sea. Love you all.

Beautiful medal. It represents what/who we are running for!!!

I ran a very good race and felt strong running the hills. Did 4 miles prior to the race as my marathon plan had me scheduled a 17-miler. I clocked 10min/mile. Steady.

1 comment:

Michele Gross Fletcher said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It is wonderful to hear what this race means to each of us, and what we run for. I think the ninth mile took everyone's breath away. It certainly made me pause and think and pray... God bless them all, our military, and all who love them.