The Blue Mile: The One Story You May Not Have Heard About the 2013 MCM

One of the biggest privileges in my life is being a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.  I don't consider this job an entitlement, but rather an honor and a privilege.  And when I get to combine that with my passion for running, it is a really good day all around.  As you know, right now I am recovering from foot surgery and cannot run until the end of November but that does not stop me from cheering fellow runners-- whether online or from a distance-- as they reach their goals. 
This past weekend was no exception as a sea of blue took over the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.  

You have heard me speak in the past about Wear Blue: Run to Remember, a group dedicated to honoring our fallen military heroes through running.  I love this mission statement:

"We run for the Fallen, for the Fighting, and for the Families.  With every step, wear blue creates a living memorial to the Service and Sacrifice of the American Military.  What makes us unique is we do not run to raise money, we raise money to run.  Running is a way of living life with passion."   

As a member of the group, it is so overwhelming to see how this group is spreading across the nation (and abroad) as we mourn the losses but also celebrate their lives.  There are a few marathons where the group sponsors a Blue Mile and it is truly a sight to see.  This mile allows all runners to pay tribute to the military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  As the phrase goes "Freedom Isn't Free" and this mile memorial is a reminder of that.  And what a fitting race to have a blue mile than at the Marine Corps Marathon.  I could write about it, but I think the poignant photos of photographer Ingrid Barrentine tell the story beautifully.  Let me warn you, prepare the hankies.

Before every race, even training race, there is a memorial circle when we call out the names of our fallen in respect.  It is always very moving.

I think these next two photos really capture the roller coaster of  emotions that we go through when we run as part of this group.  There is elation because we are celebrating the lives of these military members.  They are the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, high school friends, colleagues and neighbors.  And as you are flooded with memories you smile and feel exhilarated. 

And then you suddenly realize that they are no longer here on this earth with us and the emotions are so overwhelming that it can leave you breathless.  That is what the Blue Mile does to you.

This photo was so moving and through the magic of online running community, the photographer was able to identify this woman.  Turns out she has a son who is a Marine, so this was very personal to her. 

This is our group's new super hero: Jessica Shelton Alley, who is WBR2R's Director of Merchandise, counting blue wearers during the race.  She is a woman on a mission! I love this photo!

Mrs. Sybil Williamson has become the lady that we all love.  She is such an inspiration!

But in the end it is all about this: coming together for those we have lost, as we honor and celebrate their life. It is always amazing to me how close the military community is.  It always moving and we really like taking care of our own and that includes their families. When I see images like this I am always reminded of Shakespeare's Henry V:

"But we in it shall be remember'd; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother."

Finally, I leave you with some of the comments on the WBR2R Facebook page:  

"Frankly, this is why I choose to salute during the wear blue mile; it focuses my energy so that I don't start tearing up. The wear blue mile has always had a powerful emotional effect on me; even before I joined wear blue. And it's not just the flags or the photos - its the people and the families that volunteer as well. ALL of those things are powerful. Putting them together in one package much more so!"

"I held a flag- we were in tears much of the run as there were many sobbing as they ran past us. Salutes, hands over their hearts. One runner broke down and had to stop. People wanted to touch every flag. It was one of the most moving things I had ever experienced. As a military mom I wanted to thank those who are honoring - it was a privilege."



  1. This was absolutely beautiful.

  2. Wow what a great cause. I just got the tingly feeling! :( My heart truly goes out to everyone affected.

  3. these photos are soo moving! I got chills looking at them!

  4. Amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Those pictures capture the whole essence of the event...I definitely got emotional just looking at them!

  6. Amazing post. My husband was a marine aviator and he will love this. Thank you for sharing.