Tag Archives: Lake Placid Half-Marathon

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.

Dan Geraghty Runs For Wounded Warriors

The news that Osama bin Laden had been killed brought closure for many Americans.

For Dan Geraghty, it released a flood of memories.

Dan — now a highly regarded English teacher at Staples — spent 11 years in the military.

On June 12 he will run the Lake Placid Half-Marathon.  He’ll raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project — a non-profit organization that supports injured combat veterans.

Oh, yeah.  He’ll run all 13.2 miles wearing combat boots, and carrying his infantry rucksack.

The boots weigh 5 pounds.  The ruck — with gear and water — is another 40.

Just another walk run in the park for Dan.

Dan Geraghty, in his half-marathon gear.

Before his teaching career, Dan completed parachute training and air assault as a ROTC cadet at Hofstra.

The week he graduated he was commissioned “immediate active duty” as a second lieutenant in the Army infantry.

Dan graduated from US Army Ranger School in 1999.  He calls it “the proudest moment of my life.”

He became a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum (and was deployed on a diplomatic exchange program to Chile).

He transitioned to the National Guard — when he was thinking about applying for Special Forces School, his platoon sergeant had said “Either you’re going to marry the Army or your fiancée.”  He served until 2006, when he and his wife Kristen decided it was time to focus full-time on being a husband, father and teacher.

“I no longer wear the uniform physically,” Dan — who left the Army with the rank of captain — says.  “But for as long as I live, I will wear it mentally.”

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 nears, he wants to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to secure our freedom.

The daring mission to kill bin Laden sparked an intense return to 9/11 for Dan.  That day — working on a project for Verizon — he stood below Tower 2 as the 2nd plane hit.  He was defeaned by the roar, stunned by the concussion, seared by the heat, and tasted the sour burning of jet fuel fumes in his mouth.

“I felt like the victim of a war crime,” Dan says.  “We all truly were.  Without the support of my family and friends, I think I would have struggled indefinitely.

“But I survived, and was given a second chance on life.  For 10 years, that day has defined my life.”

Dan knows that some wounded veterans will struggle for the rest of their lives.  “I believe we owe these men and women our most humble thanks,” he says.

When he discovered the Wounded Warrior Project, its mission to treat veterans’ scars — both visible and invisible — resonated deeply.

So — after running hard on the roads around here, and  training at Crossfit Performance in Fairfield — next month Dan heads to Lake Placid.  He has done that marathon before — but in shoes and shorts.

Wearing boots, and carrying a pack, is a definite game-changer.

“A run is one thing,” he says to explain his unique choice of racing attire.

“But just a bit of pain will be my reminder of the great pains they have gone through to support and defend the United States of America.

“I just want to give back,” Dan says.  “9/11 has, in many ways, defined my life for 10 years.  I think about it every single day.

“By telling my story, by supporting the Wounded Warrior Project, by teaching about the event, I give away — piece by piece.  And I no longer have to carry it.”

(To donate to Dan Geraghty’s half-marathon on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project, click here.  Click below for a video on the organization’s work.