I am sometimes asked why I would subject myself to the torments of a 26.2 mile race and all of the training required for it. Quite honestly, I’d have to admit that it is for selfish reasons—staying in shape, clearing my thoughts, chasing a goal like qualifying for Boston. For a large part, these are mostly individual goals and often my family sacrifices for my training or races. Running while traveling has allowed me to see more places than I had even thought possible, but coming home from a trip and “needing to” go do a 2 hour training run requires a sacrifice by my number one support team—Tanya and the kids. I will admit that one of the benefits of running is being a positive role model to my kids about leading a healthy life, but a majority of my running has been about my own goals. I’d like to change that with my next marathon in Boston. Allow me to introduce Brain Hoke.
After growing up in South Dakota, Brian attended the United States Naval Academy, where he was a classmate of mine. We may have shared only a few classes together, but I always knew of Brian and what a quality individual he was. Upon graduation (Class of 1996), Brian attended BUD/s training and became a SEAL. Like most military friendships, our paths did not cross often but we sort of knew what each other were up to through friends of friends. Over time, Brian met Christy and her two sons, they got married and had a daughter of their own. I was able to meet up with Brian in September of 2016 at our 20-year reunion. We spoke about our careers, family, and upcoming marathons over a beer. Life was good.
A few weeks later, I accomplished my goal of qualifying for Boston in a race in St. George, Utah. Just a few weeks afterwards, I learned that Brian had been killed in Afghanistan while serving his country. I was devastated. Quite honestly, I cried like had not done in awhile for the loss of a friend, classmate, brother-in-arms, husband and father. Our country had lost a hero and created another gold star wife and mother out of Brian’s number one support team. It is for their sacrifice that I would like to make this Boston Marathon more than just about my personal accomplishments.
I have never actually met Christy Hoke, but I know what a quality individual she is by the way Brian spoke of her during our brief reunion and by the legacy of her support for her husband. You see, I mentioned before that Brian and I discussed our upcoming marathons, but I didn’t tell you about his. While I had plans to run in the friendly confines of Utah, Brian was much more hard core than that. A well supported simple road race wasn’t enough to contain Brian’s personality and sense of adventure. Brian was planning on running a marathon in Antartica! A feat that sounds amazing but out of the realm of possibility for most. When Brain couldn’t accomplish his mission, his non-runner wife and mother of three, Christy, picked up the challenge and completed the race in his place (http://www.icemarathon.com/site/267 ). Her fortitude, strength and sense of commitment demonstrated an amazing sense of support and love from Brian’s number one fan.
For their determination and sacrifice, I would like to show support for Brian, Christy and their family. It is my goal to raise $1996 for their family for college, a family vacation, or for a girl to just get a mani/pedi and cup of coffee if she choses to make life a little simpler. During my training for Boston, I have sought their combined strength to get me through difficult runs. When I considered hitting stop on the treadmill or cutting my run a mile of two short, I thought of Brian’s sacrifice and determination and continued to run for him. As I complain about the impeding conditions for Monday’s weather in Boston, I think of what Christy went through at the bottom of the world to accomplish Brian’s goal.
If you could please help support my GoFundMe campaign for the Hoke’s, I would be very grateful for your support (100% of all proceeds will go to the Hoke family). Even the smallest of donations can go a long way to say thank you to one of our nation’s greatest heroes. If you cannot support financially, simply sharing this story with others will help considerably for keeping Brian’s memory and legacy alive and showing appreciation for Christy and her family.
On April 16th, Patriots Day in the city of Boston, I run for Brian.
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