WHEELING - Noting that U.S. troops often have to carry heavy equipment over long distances and rugged terrain, Joe Foster thought the least he could do would be to carry the stars and strips Saturday during the 35th annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run and Walk.
The Shadyside resident proudly carried the American flag on a sturdy flagpole for all 13.1-miles of the demanding race course, which features two major inclines.
"Our troops have to carry so much and have to go through so much ... I am just really motivated by everything they do for us," Foster said after completing the race in 1:51:06.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Shadyside resident Joe Foster rests during Saturday’s marathon.
"I have always wanted to do this. And I am always up for a challenge," he added.
As some Ogden walkers wore hats made to resemble the American flag, Foster brought the real deal to those who lined the streets to cheer on the runners during the Saturday race.
With the weight of the flag bearing down on him, Foster inevitably began to tire. However, he gathered something of a second wind upon seeing a veteran along the race course.
"When I saw that veteran stand up and salute my flag, I knew I had to push through to finish," the 48-year-old said.
Foster, who said he has run the Ogden race several times and also has competed in several Ironman triathlon events, admitted being "pretty tired" by the end.
In further voicing his support for U.S. soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen, Foster said he is tired of certain politicians who "sell out" the troops.
"They (politicians) send them off to war, then they come back and can't even get a job," he added.
Foster noted he enjoyed his Saturday run, and would likely return to compete again next year. He also thanked the Bellaire American Legion, Post 52, for providing him the flag.
Race Director R. "Scat" Scatterday, a veteran himself, was humbled at Foster's show of patriotism - particularly on Memorial Day weekend.
"This event is such a force in our community, and provides a chance for all of us to tell our veterans 'Thank you for all you've done. We appreciate it.' I am so proud of how well everything has gone this weekend, and now am looking forward to our 36th annual event," Scatterday said.