Thousands run for fallen heroes at Tough Ruck race
Thousands of service members and first responders ran, trudged and rucked 26.2 miles in honor of their fallen brothers and sisters at the 6th Tough Ruck in Concord on Sunday.
“This shadows the marathon as a reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the military and first responders,” said executive director of the Military Friends Foundation Sarah Sweeney. “…The Tough Ruck pledges to continue to say their names because freedom isn’t free and so many families in Massachusetts and beyond know the cost of that, so it is our job to honor and remember.”
“It’s an incredible sense of pride,” said Army Master Sgt. Bernie Madore. Madore was one of the Tough Ruckers at the finish line when the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon six years ago.
He and other soldiers from the group helped save people and assist law enforcement. “It’s a very emotional day because you know everyone has a child or family member or friend who is gone. But we do this because of them.”
Among the thousand runners, dozens of local cops ran to honor fallen Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna, who was killed in the line of duty last July.
“It is a very emotional day,” said Chesna’s brother-in-law, Weymouth Capt. Joe Comperchio. He ran the Tough Ruck race for the first time for Chesna as well as for Yarmouth’s fallen officer Sgt. Sean Gannon, who was killed a year ago on April 12. “I miss him so much and this was a way to have his memory live on, so his kids know their father is still alive in spirit.”
Comperchio said the Military Friend Foundation helped his sister after Chesna died, so this was his way to pay it forward for other families.
Blood, sweat, tears — and blisters — went into the months-long training for the marathon-equivalent. Each runner carried rucksacks ranging in weight from 15 to 60 pounds. Racers came off the course limping, tired and sweaty but with big smiles and sometimes tears as they hugged and kissed their loved ones and teammates.
“It feels amazing to be done, it went beyond mental toughness,” said Ami Humphrey of New Hampshire, who ran with her sister-in-law to support two friends they lost in combat and from suicide. “I had a blister pop and (my partner) asked if I was OK and it was like, no, I’m not, but I have to keep going. The pain is just temporary.”
This year, the race raised more than $800,000 for the Military Family Fund families of the fallen, said Sweeney.