Updated: June 04, 2021 08:20 PM
Created: June 04, 2021 08:12 PM
The National Anthem, the pop of the starter gun, and the roar of fighter jets have all become established sights and sounds of Grandma's Marathon
"I mean the jets for sure and the National Anthem is just, I mean your heart stops almost [and] it starts to beat really deep," said Whitney Olson.
For Proctor sisters Whitney Olson and Allie Hom, gearing up to run in their third Garry Bjorklund Half Marathons, watching the 148th Fighter Wing 'Bulldogs' flyover the race is an emotional moment.
"I love it every time I hear the jets," Hom said. "I know the pilots, know everyone who works on them, and I know what they do overseas and for our country."
"It's almost like they're kicking off the race and they're protecting us that whole time that we that we're running," Olson added.
Both Hom and Olson are sergeants in the 148th Fighter Wing. After completing basic training they picked up a new training regime.
"Eat together at lunch and go for runs," Olson laughed.
They've ran on base in Duluth and while deployed together to Afghanistan in 2012.
"We used to have to have to run the parameter road with the jets flying, and when we were in Afghanistan we ran every day out there," Hom explained. "We ran a half marathon out there and it just keeps your mind steady."
In 2016 Sergeant Olson went on to serve in South Korea.
Later, the spirit of Grandma's Marathon would follow their other sisters and brothers in uniform overseas.
In 2018, 350 members of the 148th were deployed to Kuwait for three months causing them to miss the iconic Duluth event.
"The staff at Grandma's couldn't bring a marathon to Kuwait, but they sent t-shirts and socks," said Audra Flanagan with 148th public affairs. "The 148th arranged a 5K in Kuwait, it was 100 degrees [and] there were sand squalls or dusk squalls for some of the runners."
Now the squadron's long history with the marathon continues to live on through it's pilots.
Duluth Major David Betts will be looking at his city from new heights conducting his first flyover for the 45th Grandma's Marathon.
"I'm super excited to see the massive crowds of people at the start below. This community has shown the 148th Fighter Wing so much support [and] me personally, as I'm born and raised in Duluth," Betts said.
Sergeant Hom and Olson will assure that support continues throughout the race by carrying a flag from Highway 61 to the finish line in Canal Park, to thank those who protect this nation.
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