Kentucky Guardsmen march in Boston Tough Ruck

Staff Report

Tough Ruck MA TAG

Kentucky Guardsmen are greeted by the Adjutant General for Massachusetts, Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice (third from right) at the Boston Tough Ruck in Concord, Mass., April 18, 2015. The event brought more than 230 Service members and first responders to Minuteman National Historical Park for the 26.2 mile ruck march.(Courtesy photo)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — For the second year in a row, Kentucky Guardsmen participated in the Boston Tough Ruck in Concord, Massachusetts, April 18. 1st Lt. Carson Gregory with the 2123rd Transportation Company organized the team to compete. Staff Sgt. Jarred Turner and Sgt. Nick Holloway, also from the 2123rd were joined by 1st Lt. Christopher Cook from the 299th Chemical Company to round out the team.

The race, which took place in Concord’s Minuteman National Historical Park, is a 26.2 mile event held in conjunction with the Boston Marathon. The Tough Ruck is a program of the Military Friends Foundation to honor military members who have been killed in action or died of suicide. Funds raised from the race go to benefit military families.

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Service members, first responders and civilians begin the 26.2 mile long Boston Tough Ruck in Concord, Mass., April 18, 2015. Proceeds from the event went to Military Friend Foundation to benefit the families of Service members. (Courtesy photo)

“No one knows a Soldier like another Soldier.  When we heard of the great strides that the Military Friends Foundation were making in the lives of Soldiers in need we knew we wanted to be a part of it,” said Turner. “Not only do we get to raise money for this great cause but we get to spend a weekend with like-minded individuals.”

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More than 230 participants marched in the event. In addition to a large number of Service members, numerous firemen, police officers and civilians also took on the challenge. Gregory said it was impressive to see the outpouring of support for fallen heroes. That support of remembrance is what event officials say make the tough ruck so special.

“What stood out for me was the number of streamers, the names of fallen Soldiers, that were carried on Saturday,” said Gregory. “Even with the hundreds of names that participants registered ahead of time, the amount of additional names created before the start of the race was humbling.”

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Kentucky Guardsmen march in the Boston Tough Ruck in Concord, Mass., April 18, 2015. The Kentuckians were easy to spot with the their large U.S. and University of Kentucky flags. (Courtesy photo)

“I took the opportunity to ask about the names other Soldiers were carrying. Hearing the stories, and how much that particular Soldier meant to them, put the strain and privilege of the event into perspective for me.”

The event is run by roughly 100 volunteers, from military families to Boy Scout troops. The Kentuckians all agreed that the atmosphere, while not the original route or size of the Boston Marathon, has its own special feel that is appropriate for the location and the cause.

“Crossing the finish line to be greeted by the Gold/Blue Star families is a great feeling,” Turner said. “The community is also very patriotic, their support is what keeps us going.”

The Kentucky team trained for months prior to the ruck, logging more than 300 miles combined to prepare for the 26.2 miles. Turner said it was all about practice and hydration, but the focus remained on them doing this as a team. Holloway said he was doing it to support his fellow Soldiers he marched with and to help them achieve their goal, as well as his own.

Those goals were measured in accomplishments and memories.

This year hit home for Holloway as they marched in memory of past Soldiers. Not long before the ruck, he lost his grandfather who was former military and Kentucky State Trooper.

“I told my Papaw before he passed that I was going to participate in the Boston Marathon Tough Ruck this year, and he was extremely proud that I am setting such a goal, and putting myself in a position to help others,” said Holloway. “On a personal note, that’s a big part of who my Papaw was, and a great man that I looked up to.”

“When it’s all said and done we may not get towering trophies or championship rings for completing the Tough Ruck, but our paycheck will be in the form of knowing that we are successful and we did it for an amazing cause.”

“With 2015 marking the second consecutive year Kentucky Soldiers have accepted the event’s challenge, it supports the idea that Kentucky Guardsmen are always up for a challenge,” said Gregory. “The act of Soldiers pushing themselves to limits like these speaks volumes about the dedication, drive, and determination of Soldiers and units we have here in the Commonwealth.”

Gregory is looking forward to another opportunity to do the ruck march.  As are his troops.

“It wasn’t two days — in fact, we were on the drive home from Boston — when my Soldiers were asking about plans to participate in the Tough Ruck next year. Who knows — maybe we’ll try for a three-peat.”

 

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