Saturday 09 May2015 – Bath, Maine – “The MURPH” (Russ Shoberg)
As a guy who loves hiking and running in the woods, trail runs have become my favorite type of event these past years. Back in snowy February, an upcoming MURPH trail run in Bath caught my eye. When I learned that it was named in honor of the late SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, my interest in participating continued to grow, and I felt that it would be most appropriate to include the SEAL honored by TSP. So for this run, I requested permission to carry two stones. I selected SO1 Patrick Feeks (USN SEAL), and since I had carried his stone during the past Maine Marathon, I asked for Capt. Ben Keating (US Army) again.
Saturday morning brought the usual pre-run gear preparation, and included some time just thinking about the two men I was trying to honor with my run that morning. It is always very humbling to acknowledge that these men were not so much older than my own son when they gave their all in service. The sadness brought a resolve to carry the day with respect and honor so that their stories could be shared with others that day. The drive from my home to Bath took an hour. Since I was alone, I got a good chance to reflect on what I had learned about Patrick and Ben and offer a prayer of peace for their families.
The sharing of TSP and these heroes’ stories actually started early. The man I happened to park next to turned out to be a former Army Honor Guard in Arlington National Cemetery. He took a keen interest in their stories and the mission of TSP. A bit later and after a short bus ride to the starting line, the run began.
Most of the course was a good old ramble through the woods, with all the roots, rocks and hills that kept me from getting complacent. I quickly lost count of how many times I stumbled along the way through. Much of the time, I found myself alone which allowed me to think about the families that these men left behind to go to war, and how the families became the survivors. Because this run was the day prior to Mother’s Day, I knew the grief was likely to be even more acute at this time. For that, I hoped that my effort could help to relieve a bit of grief in some way.
When I reached the end of the woods about 200 yards or so from the finish, I stopped to take the stones out of my pack. I wanted to bring Patrick and Ben’s stones into the finish line in full view of anyone who was watching. The approach was lined with flags and when I got near the line, the announcer noticed the stones in my hands. She asked me to come over to the microphone. I answered her question of what I was carrying with, “They’re Hero Stones”, which allowed me to tell the crowd that I was carrying them in honor of Special Warfare Operator Patrick Feeks, a Navy SEAL, and Captain Benjamin Keating (US Army). This led to a few parking lot conversations about both these heroes and TSP. And THAT was the real objective all along – getting the chance to share the names of these two Maine heroes aloud, so that others remember, MHANF