PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H.-- --
Sometimes, all it takes is a little inspiration. That is what Airman 1st Class Mary Archer benefitted from during the 2013 Run for the Fallen, an event that drew nearly 700 participants to Ordiorne State Park in Rye Sept. 15 to honor fallen New Hampshire military personnel.
Although Archer takes pride in her fitness, she was unsure she could complete the 12 mile run. She had never run the full distance before, but was moved to finish by what she witnessed.
"I definitely felt myself getting tired at some points but the fact families were stationed along the entire route kind of reenergized you every time I met a new one; you had this new energy and ready to go to the next one," said Archer. "It was very, very inspiring and motivational through the entire event. All of that kind of worry and being a little bit tired washed away with each family."
The event was held to honor 71 of the state's fallen military personnel. Unlike road races, Run for the Fallen isn't a race -- it's a 12-mile run. Participants had the option of walking or running the length of the course. Families of the Fallen line the route and it's a good opportunity for the families and runners to interact.
"We were able to stop and give them a hug and shake their hands," said Archer. "We stopped at every single family and acknowledged the sacrifice (of their loved one). I don't tear up easily but it really hits home. I have a lot of friends who have been overseas and some of them are in some pretty dangerous career fields".
Archer enlisted in the Air National Guard in September 2011 and is currently on a full-time tour for upgrade training as an air traffic controller in the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron.
Archer reflected more on the run, "It's a phenomenal event. I've done a lot of 5ks and one five-miler but this one was extremely moving and rewarding. It's something that is meaningful to everyone involved: the families and the people running it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat".
Chief Master Sgt. Brenda Blonigen, also a participant in Run for the Fallen, spoke about the significance of an event like this.
"It's important to the families of fallen heroes to know that we still care about them and they will never ever be forgotten," said Blonigen, 157th Air Refueling Wing command chief. "I think that's the important thing, the fact that they did not die in vain. They died for the country. We appreciate the sacrifice that families have made. If we forget fallen heroes then we'll be very quick to do this again."
Also participating was Senior Master Sgt. Deborah Tzrinske, Tech Sgt. Mitchell Boden from the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, and from the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron: Senior Airman John Fiorentio, Master Sgt. Craig Poirer, Senior Airman Israel Ewing, and Lt. Col. Strider Sulley.
Run for the Fallen, a 501c nonprofit organization started in 2008, offers runs in nearly every state. The original run went from Fort Irwin, Calif. to Arlington National Cemetery, Va. The organization raises money and awareness for family members of service members who've made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11.
For further information on Run for the Fallen N.H. visit http://www.runforthefallennh.org/