Relay event with runners carrying American flag from Washington to Florida passes through Clark County
When Howard Heck and Marine Sgt. Maj. Mark Wright headed south Tuesday through downtown Vancouver with an American flag, it marked something of a milestone: One state down, seven states to go.
Wright and Heck are among hundreds of runners teaming up to carry that flag to Florida in a two-month journey called the Old Glory Relay.
They took the flag from Marcelle Abel and Lyndsey Lanphere in front of the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center, 1305 Columbia St., and headed for Portland.
After catching her breath, Lanphere described their run of an hour or so as “awesome.”
“It feels great to be part of something like this,” the Beaverton, Ore., runner said.
At 4,216 miles, the relay run is an effort that one project official calls “America’s longest parade.”
It is organized by Team Red, White & Blue, a nonprofit that says its mission “is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”
Tuesday marked Day 3 of the relay, which started on Sunday — 9/11 — in Redmond. It is scheduled to end in Tampa on Nov. 11 — Veterans Day.
Tuesday’s 39.8-mile effort started in Woodland. Abel and Lanphere took the handoff at American Legion Post 176 in Salmon Creek. They ran for about an hour before Abel handed the flag to Wright, who is based at Portland’s Marine Corps recruiting center.
Heck, a Beaverton resident, and Wright were slated to end their relay leg at Farragut Park in Portland.
This was the relay’s first run through Clark County; the two previous editions started in San Francisco and ended in Washington, D.C.
But that flag has seen a lot more of the world than that, said Sarah Roberts, who ran legs on Sunday and Monday and was part of the support team on Tuesday.
“It’s been all over the globe,” said Roberts, a Seattle resident. “It’s been on F-16s and on aircraft carriers.”
And that flag has been carried by a lot more people than members of the official relay teams, she said.
“Someone will see us and ask, ‘Can I run for my son?’ And in whatever they’re wearing at the time, they carry it for 500 meters.”