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Running to honor the fallen at Fort Hamilton • Brooklyn Paper

Running to honor the fallen at Fort Hamilton

Run for Honor: More than 100 soldiers and Bay Ridge residents participated the eighth annual Run for the Honor race on the Fort Hamilton Army base on the eighth annual five- and 10-kilometer Run for the Honor race to raise money for local Gold Star families.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

These runners gave back to families who gave all.

More than 100 runners turned out for the 8th-annual Run for the Honor at Fort Hamilton Army Base on Sept. 30 to raise money for local Gold Star families os soldiers lost in combat. The base chaplain, who came in first place in the men’s 5-K race and second overall, said the real winners were those the event helped and remembered.

“We’re running for the cause, for those who fell and died for the country, so the spirit is more about camaraderie than anything else,” said Donald Ehrke, who ran the race for the first time this year and has been stationed on the base for the past 15 months.

He said that he runs about three miles pretty much every day, and that he enjoyed running on the five-kilometer course — which was updated this year to stay entirely on the base — for both its views and its familiarity.

“It’s a nice run along the water, to take a look at the ships,” he said. “It was good because I know Fort Hamilton well, and I’ve run around the course before.”

The female staff sergeant who eked out Ehrke to snag the top spot overall said she doesn’t enjoy running, and only does it about once a month as part of her training, but credited mental toughness as the true key to her success.

“I just try to be disciplined enough to keep my pace and keep going,” Deborah Walters said.

And keep going she did —even accidentally running an extra loop that added the length of a soccer field to her winning dash — but the Recruiting Battalion sergeant said she’s just grateful that she’s able to run.

“The greatest part is we go out there to run for those who can’t run anymore,” the Bedford-Stuyvesant resident said.

Another local, who also ran with his dog Bruno — a Shar-Pei and rat terrier mix — echoed Walters’s and Ehrke’s motivation for the run, and added that the views weren’t too bad, either.

“With the water, and the dog, it was very relaxing and very peaceful,” said Shawn Stevens. “And ultimately, I did it for the cause.”

A Ridgite who had just enlisted with the Army and tackled the event’s inaugural 10-K race — snagging first place in his age group and second overall — said the start was harder than the finish.

“On the way there, we had to run with the headwind, so there’s that resistance, and on the way back there were some hills,” said Roman Bekker, who will ship out to Fort Benning in Georgia next month. “But the adrenaline kicks in, and you want to do your best.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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