The public is invited to run the final three miles of a 143-mile race, part of the Arkansas Run for the Fallen, honoring Arkansas service members killed in the Global War on Terrorism, said event organizer Chief Master Sgt. Bubba Beason, who is stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base.
The race will kick off at 10 a.m. Friday at the Ozark City Hall and finish at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock on March 16. “Core runners,” Beason said, will be the ones participating in the event Friday and Saturday. On the afternoon of March 16, the core runners will cross the Big Dam Bridge into Little Rock. That is where the public will have the opportunity to join in and show their support and run alongside the core teams for the final three miles toward the finish on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol at about 2 p.m., with a ceremony taking place at 2:30, Beason said.
“We will run pretty much as a pack for the remaining three miles,” Beason said. However, those wanting to participate must preregister. The cost is $25 per person and includes a T-shirt with the names of Arkansas’ fallen soldiers printed on a map of the state.
To inquire about joining the run, volunteering, and donating or sponsorship opportunities, visit www.arkansasrunforthefallen.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The scheduled route for the run, as well as the list of Arkansas’ fallen soldiers and their biographies, can be viewed on the site.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Arkansas Fallen Hero Memorial, which is scheduled to be built at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History, and to the Arkansas Gold Star Mothers, an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in service to the country.
“There’s some pain associated with this run,” Beason said, “but nothing compared to the pain the Gold Star Mothers know.”
Each mile of the run will be in honor of a fallen Arkansas service member. The core runners, Beason said, will be made up of members of all branches of service, law enforcement, firefighters, retirees and civilians. The one thing all will have in common, Beason said, is “a heart for the cause,” which he said is the fallen soldiers and their Gold Star Mothers.
The core runners will split into groups of three men who will run six-mile relays. They will carry a U.S. flag, an Arkansas flag and an Honor to Remember flag. They will stop at every mile marker and present an 18-inch U.S. flag and a biographical card for a fallen soldier. At some of the stops, Beason said, there will be no family members waiting.
“I tell the runners that there’s going to be a lot of miles where no family is there, but understand that just because there’s no family there, it doesn’t stop you from remembering them,” Beason said. “That mile you run is for that hero. Read the bio card, and then when you finish reading, place the flag in the ground, take a knee, and say a few words and salute.”
However, he said, there will be family members at some of the mile markers, which will make the event extra special.
“Some family members run a leg also with the core group,” he said. “Through Maumelle to Little Rock, there’s pretty much a family at every stop.”
Beason organized his first run, the New Jersey Run for the Fallen, in 2009 while stationed at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. He began the Arkansas Run in 2012 after transferring to the Little Rock Air Force Base. He has served in the military for about 22 years. He has been deployed to Afghanistan seven times since 2002. He was awarded the Gold Star Mothers Cross of Honor in 2009 in Washington, D.C.
Beason will drive to Ozark prior to the race, carrying with him his lawn mower, a weed trimmer and spray paint. It will take him about 12 hours, he said, to clear and mark the one-mile stops. He could solicit help for the job, but he said it’s a job that he feels compelled to do.
“It’s personal to me,” he said. “It’s just something I have to do.”