A Heroic Half-Marathon

Earlier this month, “06880” reported on Dan Geraghty’s upcoming half-marathon.  The Staples English instructor, US Army Ranger School graduate and former 10th Mountain Division platoon leader was preparing to run 13.2 miles to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project — wearing his combat boots and 40-pound rucksack.

With typical determination, he succeeded.  In fact, he exceeded his goals — in many ways. Here’s his report.

The run was a massive success.  The Westport community — centered at Staples — offered the core funds of the $8,000 we raised.

Dan Geraghty (center) and his buddies.

The day of the run, the cloud cover was excellent.  The weather was cool, and the sun did not come out.  That was truly a blessing.

Shaun Lowry — a former Marine, 6-3 and 230 pounds of pure muscle — called me out in the morning.  He decided to run with a 60-pound ruck, so I had to meet the challenge.  I “recovered” from that decision all week!

During the run, about 2 miles in, a runner with Down Syndrome began running with the crew.  Ben — immediately nicknamed “Big Ben” by our group — was the highlight of the day for me.

Ben’s father, who was running with his son, told us that Ben was the 1st Special Olympian to complete a half-marathon.  When we heard that, we decided to give Ben our only Wounded Warrior water bottle.

The response was overwhelming.  Ben hugged and chest-bumped the 7 of us.  He even walked for a while, holding hands with one of the guys.

The run seemed difficult, until that beautiful young man ran up with a wide smile.  We cheered Ben on at the finish — he ran the last 300 meters at a full sprint.

They did it!

The rains hit us right before the last mile — perfect timing.  It made the rucks a bit heavier, but it was more important to be cool for the final “gut check” hill.  As we climbed it, the crowd came to the fence overlooking us.  They screamed and wailed on cowbells — it sounded like a rock concert.

Three quarters of the way up the hill John P. Byrne, my wounded buddy, began to sprint.  We all followed him.  At the crest my father passed John an American flag.  We ran together, both holding the flag across the finish line.

John turned to me in the pouring rain.  He said, “I think we did a good thing.”

Sorry, Dan.  John was wrong.  You, he — and your entire team — did a great thing.

8 responses to “A Heroic Half-Marathon

  1. Dan Geraghty certainly lived up to the Ranger Creed:

    Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
    Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier.
    Never shall I fail my comrades I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.
    Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
    Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
    Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.

  2. The Dude Abides

    I have run 16 marathons, my last coming this fall with the NYC. I can not even imagine running a half with that amount of pounds on my back. Perhaps on my butt and gutt?? But truly a heroic run. Congrats Ranger! Proud of you. You not only raised money but brought awareness to our men/women in uniform. Perfect. Now if the President will announce tomorrow that many of them are coming home, it will be a perfect summer time treat.
    P.S. Bet that rain shower was a sign from above!!!

  3. Rich Franzis

    I’m pretty sure that that rain is “Ranger Sunshine”!

    A section of the Soldier’s Creed reads:

    I am and American Soldier

    Pretty much sums up Dan’s day at Lake Placid!

    We’re proud of you, Dan!

  4. Dan, Tom, “Dude,” sir, Westport (!) … thank you.

    Here’s a link to the story of “Big Ben,” Benjamin Fazio, Olympian: http://www.northjersey.com/news/123001843_Fazio_reaches_goal_of_marathon_completion.html

    The other WWP runners at Lake Placid were … SGT John P. Byrne, Shaun Lowry, Anthony Cambareri, Joe Cambareri (twins), Mike Powell, Ryan (Coast Guard).

    Colleen Cox-Gloude is the talented and generous professional photographer who shared those pics with us.

  5. Ryan Bonti … a hard-chargin’ Coast Guard trooper.

  6. The Dude Abides

    Ben is my new hero!! I imagine Lake Placid is hardly flat. Alittle 13.1 coming
    up this Sunday along the beach in Fairfield. Keep up the good fight, Ranger.
    You do every serviceperson in or out of uniform proud with your accomplishments.
    Let me know of your next endeavor and I will certainly send off a check!!!

  7. A Westport Admirer

    Dan G., Tom, Dude, Rich Franzis:
    You guys are far braver than I will ever be…
    You are my heroes !

    Thank you for your service and for preserving my freedoms.

    PS. Dan Geraghty: Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment…
    sent a contribution to your cause (sorry – better late than never 🙂 !

  8. Sam Goodgame


    It sounds like I missed out on something incredible. I wish I could have been there.

    The wounded warriors send such a powerful message without ever speaking. Last year a few soldiers and Marines visited our gym and completed the IOCT, which is a particularly uncomfortable indoor obstacle course that involves climbing ropes, running with a medicine ball, maneuvering across beams, etc. One Marine had TWO prosthetic legs, and he completed the entire thing. Needless to say, the gym was a lot more crowded for awhile afterwards. Self-pity dies quickly after witnessing that kind of resolve.