BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Running a full marathon is an accomplishment for anyone, but a Vermont National Guard member decided to add weight to bring awareness to veteran suicide in a race called the Tough Ruck.
It’s part of the Boston Marathon Series and takes place the day before race Monday. Sgt. First Class Keith Waterfield competed the 26.2 miles in full military gear and carrying a 45-pound backpack.
"I don't know if I could say that I love running, but I do enjoy it," Waterfield said.
For someone who doesn't love running, Waterfield sure does a lot of it. He runs several long distance races every year which including 50K and full marathons. However, when he does marathons, he's pushing his own limits.
"This one I had to retrain myself so I would be drinking a lot more," Waterfield said.
This year his training paid off; he finished seventh overall and first in the military heavyweight division in Boston's Tough Ruck.
As you can imagine, it wasn't easy crossing the finish line. He says he knew he was in the top 10 but lost track of his place when he tripped and fell at mile 23.
"So when I finished I was ready to walk over to the medical tent and have them help me out, and then I found out I was in the top 7," Waterfield said.
But this 24-year Navy veteran and Vermont National Guard member wasn't running for himself.
"I was also raising awareness for Mission 22, which is for veteran suicide," Waterfield said.
The yellow ribbons on his backpack honor his friends and fellow service people who have lost their lives either overseas or here at home. He uses their memories to motivate him through his races.
The race raises money for Military Friends and Family in Massachusetts. This year the race raised about $900,000.
For people competing in the Burlington City Marathon, Waterfield says to make sure you are having fun.
He says one of the ways you can do this is by making friends with people you are racing next to. He says they can push and help the time go by faster.