Re­lay race hon­or­ing 9/11 vic­tims passes through city

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By McKenna Ox­en­den

The Amer­i­can flag clenched in the hand of the run­ners pass­ing through Bal­ti­more of­fered the usual stars, but unusual stripes.

Printed within the 13 stripes were the names of the nearly 3,000 vic­tims of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks 18 years ago this week.

Seven teams car­ried a ver­sion of this flag through Bal­ti­more’s streets Mon­day, pass­ing by the 9/11 Memo­rial at the World Trade Cen­ter in the In­ner Har­bor, as part of a 240-mile re­lay to re­mem­ber the lives lost dur­ing those at­tacks in New York, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and Penn­syl­va­nia.

The 9/11 Prom­ise Run, started in 2016 by Jen­nifer DePoto, com­mem­o­rates the fallen, par­tic­u­larly first re­spon­ders. The re­lay lasts three days, be­gin­ning at the Pen­tagon in Ar­ling­ton, Vir­ginia, and end­ing at Ground Zero in New York. Each day cov­ers at least 80 miles with run­ners from each team swap­ping in and out for one another as their team­mates fol­low along in sup­port ve­hi­cles. When the run­ners reach New York, all 77 par­tic­i­pants will join to­gether and run to the fin­ish.

A sep­a­rate 9/11 Prom­ise Bike de­parts from the Pen­tagon and goes 198 miles over two days to Shanksvill­e, Pa., where a hi­jacked flight crashed af­ter pas­sen­gers fought with the ter­ror­ists.

“It’s not a cel­e­bra­tion at the end,” said William Ewald, a Prom­ise Run board mem­ber. “We re­al­ize what hap­pened there and it be­comes a deeply per­sonal thing.”

Each per­son who par­tic­i­pates in the run must raise at least $1,000. That money is then placed into a schol­ar­ship fund for chil­dren of 9/11 first re­spon­ders and mil­i­tary who have died or be­come ill or in­jured and can’t re­turn to work.

Ewald es­ti­mates $100,000 was do­nated by par­tic­i­pants this year alone.

The other re­quire­ment is that when­ever some­one is run­ning, they have to be hold­ing the Amer­i­can flag that has the names of the fallen on it.

“At the end of this, they’re not go­ing to want to give up that flag,” Ewald said. “It’ll be­come part of them.”

Through­out the three-day jour­ney, teams can take wa­ter and food breaks at sev­eral rest stops, typ­i­cally at fire sta­tions along the route. Af­ter run­ning nearly 50 miles from the start at 5 a.m. Mon­day, run­ners stopped at Bal­ti­more County Fire Depart­ment Sta­tion 5 at 4501 Wash­ing­ton Blvd. in Halethorpe.

Fire Capt. Erik Rein­hardt said this is the sec­ond year the sta­tion has hosted Prom­ise Run par­tic­i­pants be­cause they be­lieve in what the run rep­re­sents.

“The cause it­self is great,” Rein­hardt said. “They’re con­tin­u­ing to bring over­all aware­ness to the lives lost.”

Rein­hardt said some of the fire­fight­ers are even talk­ing about start­ing their own team next year af­ter talk­ing with run­ners.

David D. Pre­ston, 38, of Dulles, Vir­ginia, en­tered a team of work­ers from UPS for the sec­ond time. He said he was work­ing for the Depart­ment of De­fense in Europe dur­ing the at­tacks. He said he felt like he couldn’t help as much as he wanted at the time. But by run­ning, he feels like he gets to give back — and with 10 fellow em­ploy­ees.

“Some­thing like this you can’t do on your own,” Pre­ston said. “The con­di­tions are ex­treme and no one is there cheer­ing you on. There’s no glory at the fin­ish line.”

AMY DAVIS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Justin Acer­boni of San Diego, one of 70 run­ners par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 240-mile 9/11 Prom­ise Run, jogs along the shoul­der of Pu­laski High­way in White Marsh. The run­ners, each do­ing 6-mile re­lays, started at the 9/11 Pen­tagon Memo­rial in D.C. on Mon­day morn­ing and plan to ar­rive at Ground Zero in New York City on Wed­nes­day.

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