9/11 Heroes Run 2014: Best way I know to honor our fallen soldiers

Wimmer CEO Matt Sauri speaks to runners pre-race

Wimmer CEO Matt Sauri speaks to runners pre-race

More than 200 runners gathered last Saturday for 5K and 1.5-mile runs as part of the third annual Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes Run on Mercer Island. Though most were eager to burn calories and stay fit on a warm, sunny day, it soon became clear the main reason we were all there.

As I’ve written before, organizer Kevin Mincio knows firsthand about the 9/11 tragedy. He was near Manhattan’s World Trade Center buildings when it happened, working for Goldman Sachs in a nearby high-rise. He witnessed the death and destruction. It prompted him to quit his job, join the military and do combat missions in Iraq. It’s quite a story.

Mincio came home from Iraq when other soldiers, such as Travis Manion and Jesse Williams, did not. He eventually moved to the Seattle area. To honor them and all other fallen soldiers, as well as the men and women who died in 9/11, Mincio organizes this race each year, with the help of friends such as Matt Sauri, chief executive officer of Wimmer Solutions.

Me with Nicole Browning and Matt Sauri

Me with Nicole Browning and Matt Sauri

Before the event begins, a color guard is present, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited by all participants, and Mincio shares memories of that day and the heroes he later fought beside on the battlefield. Those memories run deep. This run is the best way I know of to honor the people who died in 9/11 and those who have been killed in combat.

I will certainly never forget Sept. 11, 2001. But each passing year distances us from the horror we all felt that day. It’s good to have a way like this to pause and reflect.

Much better than a year ago

As for the 5K run itself, I enjoyed it much more than I did a year ago, possibly because I simply ran better. More on that in a second. It was also really cool to see the turnout of Wimmer Solutions folks I know, including Matt, Nicole Browning (marketing director), Sarah Safley (recruiter), and Sheri Hilderbrand (a former Zones colleague now on the Bing Maps team at Wimmer). This made the event special, as Wimmer has been a cool freelance client of mine.

I finished the run in 36:33 (11:47 per mile), exactly four minutes faster than my time a year ago. Full results are here. The two-lap course at Luther Burbank Park in the island’s north end was tweaked a bit — a short jaunt down to Lake Washington and back was eliminated in favor of a flat trek around a parking lot. That slight flattening helped me some.

Runners are happy to reach the finish line

These runners are happy to reach the finish line

So did the fact that I have lost about 12 or more pounds since the start of 2014. Like last year, I labored through this run in the heat and felt again like I was running in slow motion — but my slow motion was simply faster than a year ago.

It was my 10th road run this year (second-fastest) and my 171st since 2001.

Congrats to Sarah Safley on her run and her second-place finish in her age group!

Special thanks to Kevin and Matt for helping organize this event again, and for Wimmer Solutions for having such a great turnout in support of Kevin and Matt and the cause.

What’s next

I’m looking forward to doing my final organized bicycle ride of 2014 on Sept. 28, the Harvest Century (45-mile route) in the Portland area. I’ll ride with my brother Mark again; we first did the ride together in 2011. It was canceled the weekend of the event last year because of threatening windstorms in the area west of Portland.

Hoping that bad weather doesn’t repeat itself in 2014.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

About monteenbysk

I am not an elite runner or bicyclist, though I am friends with many. I run, walk, and bike for fun and the health benefits. I can get you to the finish but probably not to the Boston Marathon (and especially not to the Tour de France).
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