More than 1,000 runners are expected to come out and honor the lives of fallen soldiers and first responders for the third annual 9/11 Heroes Run at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The family of U.S. Naval Academy graduate Travis Manion started the run in his honor after Manion was killed by sniper fire while serving in Iraq in 2007, said Joshua Jabin, one of the race organizers.
Jabin and Manion both wrestled for the the academy and both were stationed in San Diego, CA before being deployed to Iraq. (The two did not serve together in combat.)
"Travis was a popular guy, and a very good wrestler. He was well liked on the team," Jabin said. "Travis was the first guy to joke around and have a good time."
When Manion died in Iraq, he left behind an unfulfilled promise to his father Tom Manion to run the Marine Corps Marathon with him that fall. Manion's dad ran the marathon with a group of his friends under the name Team Travis that year, and the idea for a race was born.
The idea to center the run around 9/11 came from a memorable visit Manion made to Rescue Team One in New York City shortly before his second and final deployment.
"It really touched him," Jabin said.
Annapolis runners will be joined by more than 25,000 worldwide who will run in Manion's honor this weekend in more than 50 races. Jabin said there will be races in Afghanistan, California and even aboard Navy ships.
Each race splits the money it raises between the Travis Manion foundation and a local charity. The Annapolis run will raise money for the E.S. Garnett Annapolis Firemen's Welfare Fund and the Explorer Post Annapolis Police Department's Welfare Fund.
Entry into the race costs $25 per person and comes with a T-shirt and an afternoon of free beer, hamburgers and hot dogs. To register online, click here. Resigtration closes on Friday, but Jabin said people can register in person at Fleet Feet Sports on Saturday from 10 a.m until 2 p.m.
The father of Brendan Looney, a 2004 Naval Academy grad who died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2010, will speak before the race along with Annapolis Fire Chief David Stokes.
Families are encouraged to make an afternoon of the event.
For the runners who cross the finish line first, bragging rights will be their only reward because Jabin said the focus of the day isn't really on the run.
"The first two years we didn’t even do the race chips, but for some people it's important so we'll have them this year," Jabin said. "The event is really about taking a day to honor our fallen soldiers, the families of fallen soldiers and all of our first responders."