COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - On your mark, get set, go: It’s the final run for an annual military event in the Chattahoochee Valley.
The Soldier Marathon has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local causes.
The Soldier Marathon, which is Saturday, Nov.16, has been a tradition in Columbus and on Fort Benning for a decade, with people running for troops who have died fighting for our freedom.
“We pay special tribute to the fallen heroes. The runners can put on a special bib and write the name of a fallen hero and run in honor of that soldier. So, it’s a very moving experience. We’ve had a lot of tears at the finish line," said Cecil Cheves, director of the Soldier Marathon Race.
The 10th and last of these races will happen this weekend. Cheves said the 2019 event will feature about 1,500 runners and walkers from at least 30 states. They’ll start and finish at war memorials.
“We offer not only this beautiful National Infantry Museum but also the opportunity to run on a historic military base, Fort Benning. So, the runners will find this neat," Cheves said.
Yes, a drill sergeant yells people up the hill to start the 7 miles of running on the Army installation. The rest of the marathon takes place along the Columbus Riverwalk.
“That memorial mile has flags along the whole route. When the people who are running the marathon come to the finish line, they have a sense of pride,” said Byran Allen, captain of Team RWB Columbus Chapter.
There’s also pride knowing that the Soldier Marathon has led to around $300,000 in donations overall to local military causes.
“100 percent of the sponsor dollars goes towards local military organizations, the National Infantry Museum, House of Heroes, Fort Benning MWR, Team Red White and Blue," Cheves added.
And Team RWB has been providing dozens of volunteers at this event in the last six years. They’ll be some of the 300+ volunteering at this Saturday’s Soldier Marathon, which also features a 5K, half marathon, and relay. The runners wearing those red RWB eagle shirts, some carrying flags, do it in honor of veterans and to connect with vets.
Allen said, “People cheering you throughout, but when you wear that Eagle (RWB shirt), you get a little bit extra because we’ve been everywhere...Super Bowl snippets, and many races."
You can still register for any of the Soldier Marathon events on race morning.
You can also listen to WTVM’s Jason Dennis’ in-depth interview with the race director in the second episode of the “Run The Race” Podcast released this week. Find it at https://www.wtvm.com/podcast/. Cheves talks about staying fit at 70, his faith, surviving cancer, and finishing 15 Ironmans.