The Boston Athletic Association

The 26.2-mile nationally televised Boston Marathon is what the Boston Athletic Association is best known for; but it actually sponsors many other races during the year. Besides the marathon, some of the other races it sponsors are a 5-kilometer run, a one-mile invitational, a 10-kilometer run, and a half marathon. Additionally, over the last few years, the B.A.A. has partnered with Tough Ruck, a non-profit veteran support organization, to host a 26.2-mile ruck march in honor and in memory of our fallen service members, police, firefighters and EMTs, while raising funds to support military families in times of need. My wife Hilary and I were fortunate to participate in this year's Tough Ruck.

The Tough Ruck - 26.2 to Honor the Fallen

Far too often surviving family members of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countryfind themselves in financial trouble. There is an ever-growing group of Americans that believes these situations should not happen and are attempting to do something about it.

Tough Ruck is group of military and civilians whose sole purpose is to ruck in honor and in memory of our fallen service members, police, firefighters and EMTs, while raising funds to support military families in times of need. A ruck march is a fast-paced walk across variable terrain while carrying a ruck sack, or ruck, containing a specified amount of weight. Each year those who complete the entire 26.2 miles are awarded the first of the official Boston Marathon Medals and receive recognition from the B.A.A.

On April 14, nearly 1,000 participants came together in Concord, Massachusetts, to participate in this year's event. The event took place on some of the most historic land in the country. The route had participants traveling along the Minuteman Trail which is where some the most historic battles of the Revolutionary War took place.

As a member of the military, the driving cause hit close to home for me. I've known several people that have given their lives for our great country and I am honored to both raise money for their families and to carry them with me. This year's event raised more than $600,000 according to event organizers.

It is tradition for members of the ruck march to carry ribbons with names of service members, police, fire fighters and EMTs that have died written on them. Some participants have stories, memories thoughts and prayers about the names they choose to carry while they walk while other participants carry names for those they do not know so those sacrifices are not forgotten.

As Hilary and I walked and talked with those on the same 26.2 mile journey, around us we heard the stories of many that gave their lives. It shows that even though they are gone, they remain with us and will continue to as long as we choose to carry them.

The Tough Ruck takes place the Saturday before the Boston Marathon each year and more information can be found at www.toughruck.org.

The 2018 Boston Marathon

With cold temperatures, high winds and rain coming down in sheets, more than 30,000 runners participated in the oldest annual marathon and one of the most prestigious marathons in the world on April 16, the 122nd Boston Marathon.

Weather conditions were not ideal for a race that requires participants to qualify for it by running qualifying times in other marathons. Required qualifying times are dependent on age and sex; with times to beat ranging from three hours and five mins for the youngest and fastest male bracket to five hours and twenty-five minutes for women over eighty years of age.

Completing a previous marathon faster than prescribed time for an age bracket only qualifies the runner for the Boston Marathon, participation is not guaranteed. The runner still has to apply and be accepted to participate. Each year, members of the Boston Athletic Association turn away qualified runners because more people qualified than there are spaces available to run.

For the second year in a row, Omaha District employee, Eric Vokt, qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon. After his initial marathon in 2017, Vokt wanted to return and "do the race like I felt I should." His first trip he spent time taking photos and seeing Boston, and he knew that he could do better if he attempted it again.

With weather forecasted to be less than perfect, Vokt said, "It looked like it was going to be a challenging race... but I was pretty well prepared for the weather."

Inclement weather forced Vokt to run slower than he was planning to.

"Normally I track my pace through my watch but with the conditions going into the race, I through all of that out the window and ran blind," Vokt said.

Vokt ran straight though the entire 26.2 miles without stopping.

"Because of the conditions, if I ended up stopping at any point, I probably would not have started again," Vokt said. He said that is how he trained so it wasn't difficult to do.

Even with the less the desirable conditions, Vokt competed the race in three hours, twenty-nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds.

He said he will consider running Boston Marathon again down the road, but he is thinking about stepping up his long distance running and signing up for a 50-kilometer race next.