At a time when most people were still in bed this holiday morning, more than 1,800 of my closest friends and I were lined up ready to walk, run, and stroll 4.4 miles in the 27th annual Gate to Gate Memorial Day event at Eglin Air Force Base.
My friend Pia and I have been walking the last two months prepping for the event, and hoped to finished in under one hour:20 minutes. Runners left the gate first, and once we reached the main road, the pack was almost stretched out the entire length of the route.
Less than a mile from the start was the Fallen Warrior memorial. Participants laid red and white carnations at the helmet and boots shrine.
Stations were set up at 1-mile intervals, offering ice water. Cups were dropped along the route. Volunteers followed behind clearing up our debris.
At the 3-mile marker, base firetrucks cooled down everyone with fire hoses.
On the final half mile, we saw a young mother about 50 yards ahead of us, pushing a stroller. She was our inspiration to work harder. We couldn’t come in behind a stroller! We crossed the finish at 1:01, nearly 20 minutes under our goal. The clock time was pacing the runners.
Pia and I are taking tomorrow off, to nurse sore muscles and blisters. But, we are already planning for the 2013 Gate to Gate. Next year, we’ll break that one hour mark.