by Elaine Doll-Dunn

At least two studies in patriotism will grace the trail on June 6th. Jose Nebrida, an educator from Chicago and dedicated 50 Stater, and Josh Lien, a young soldier just returned from a year long tour of duty in Iraq.

Jose had run 109 marathons when the world suffered 9/11; he now pays tribute to America by pursuing his goal of carrying the American flag for 26.2 miles in every state in the union and D.C. South Dakota will be his 21st State carrying "Old Glory;" 15th since a heart attack and subsequent triple by-pass surgery. This will be his 37th marathon over-all and the 29th bearing the flag to honor the heroes and victims of 9/11.

I first met Jose on a steaming black-top curve in Iowa; we were rounding a corner by a bridge and heading for another cornfield, a picturesque farm house, and a towering silo. The race had begun in the little town of Storm Lake and was bound to another small community named Marathon. "Marathon to Marathon" was the catchy name of that particular challenge With students and running in common we shared a pleasant few miles, then one or the other of us forged ahead, probably him. We met again in New York, then Chicago, and later in Florida---the nature of 50 Staters and the marathon world. At that time he was just running to complete the states, but even then he was decked out in flag motif running gear! It will be a special treat to see him in Deadwood pursuing his goal-of which he says,"I had to do something, I don't have much money and you can only give so much blood!" Watch for him on the trail or at the finish. He's easy to recognize, with a full size flag and a full size smile; go Jose'!

And then there's Josh. Twenty-four years old and the father of two sons, just back from a year away from family. I spoke most often with his wife because he was usually off somewhere with the oldest boy…not a bad endorsement.

"I ran for a long time in college," he told me, "but where we were in Iraq, the opportunities were few and far between. It was just not athlete friendly. We ran to escape. We had one paved runway, ¾ of a mile long, a friend and I would run back and forth for one and two hours, it was an escape, a catharsis, a chance to forget things. Just tying on my shoes was a comfort. I ran a 5K here on Sunday, being home and being able to put on running shoes reminded me it was not all horrible… and it helped me to remember the good things."
The Half Marathon is gonna be a lot to chew," he continued, I've never raced this distance! "But it will remind me I'm home."

Josh spoke proudly of his family as he recounted the past weekend. "On Sunday, when I ran the 5K, my wife pushed the one-year-old in a stroller, and my five-year-old, he's a trooper, he pedaled his little trike for the whole five thousand meters, right with me. He doesn't really understand distance, he just knows every morning I get up and run. He always says, 'How far did you run today, Dad?' What a role model. The little guy deals with his lot philosophically… "The army needs my dad to work, but now he's a runner!"

Running shoes are good for the sole.

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"I noticed her at seventeen miles. Running strong, powering up the hill from the fire station, cute little body shapely in black running tights and top... Soft silver hair haloed her head as she ran smoothly through the chill Boston air. I pulled up beside her and settled into her pace, "Hi, you're running well..." "Thanks, I feel good." "I'm doing research on women who began marathoning after the age of forty, do you mind if I ask how old you are when you started running?" "Not at all, I was sixty-eight when I started running and began marathoning soon after that." I did a quick double-take, thought for a moment then looked sideways at her. We had crested the hill and were moving at a comfortable talk/run pace. She grinned back at me impishly and said, "I'm seventy-five now, and... I'm a Catholic nun!""
- taken from Chapter 9 of Gotta Run... by Elaine Doll-Dunn.

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