Coast Guardsmen participate in 200-mile continuous marathon

BALTIMORE – Military members joined with friends and other runners to complete the 12th annual Tom’s Run, held Friday and Saturday from Cumberland Md., to Bethesda, Md.

Tom’s Run is a 200-mile continuous relay along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal held in memory of Tom Brooks, a retired chief warrant officer in the Coast Guard who passed away in 2004 after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“We’re here because we’re celebrating Tom’s philosophy, which is in conjunction with our Coast Guard values,” said Roger Butturini, the race director. “Tom’s philosophy was, ‘Get up — go do something. Live a healthy lifestyle!’”

The event began 12 years ago after a group of Brooks’ friends decided that they would hold the event in his name as a tribute to his love for fitness and community. Brooks valued fitness and encouraged others throughout his life to pursue a life of fitness rather than sitting on a couch.

“We’re here because we’re celebrating community, teamwork, being able to get up and do something,” said Butturini. “That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re doing this, because it brings us all together.”

“You get a group of people together, and you come out and run this amazing distance as a team,” said retired Lt. Cmdr. Mike Hershberger. “It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are. It’s just you’re out here, and you do it together. It’s hard work, but it’s downright fun.”

“I think this year is the largest it’s ever been, which is really great to see,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Bippert, a former Tom’s Run race director.

More than 32 teams consisting of 552 people began the relay Friday after midnight. The teams took turns running throughout the night, sleeping in cars and on park benches whenever they could.

“To be able to finish up and know what you have accomplished with the help of your whole team and to be able to look back at all the adventures along the way — those stories really carry you through to the next year, and we always look forward to this event each and every year,” said Bippert.

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