Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Elizabeth Comeau
As she crossed the finish line of the NYC Marathon Sunday, Amanda Charney held on to her fiancé, Marc Small.
She had held on to him for 26.2 miles.
She has held on to him in various ways since he died in Afghanistan on February 12, 2009.
“I’m still in love with him,” Charney, 35, said a day after she finished the marathon. Her fiancé, Marc Small, would have loved to race. “I really am, I’m a lot stronger now than I was – I would never be able to have a conversation about him without crying so much.”
For the last few years, Charney, a New Jersey resident, has carried a bit of the man she planned to marry around with her.
Sunday, she carried him for 26.2 miles through the streets of New York City.
“Marc always wanted to run NYC,” Charney said. “I wasn’t much of a runner to begin with, but I would run a couple miles with him. I ran a marathon in Alaska a few years ago, was going to do one and done, but I’ve been doing a lot of wishes he had on his bucket list, and he would have loved this.”
In a small ziplock-like bag Charney has brought Small to many of the continents he wanted to vist; she’s even walked The Great Wall carrying his ashes.
But for Charney, the most poignant and fitting tribute to date was doing something Marc loved to do – in a place that drove him to sign up to enlist to serve his country.
“He enlisted because of of the impact 9/11 had on him,” Charney said. “He was so traumatized by that, and wanted to do something for his country.”
Small was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a Special Forces Green Beret.
Charney and Small were together for three years – “it was love at first sight,” she said, and planned to wed.
Small, 29, was in Afghanistan for three weeks when he lost his life.
Small’s family first suggested Charney join TeamRWB, an organization whose mission is to “enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”
Says Charney: TeamRWB is more than that. “They understand my story, and they are runners,” she said. “The people are so welcoming, I’ve done only a few races with them and feel like I’ve known most of them forever.”
Charney, who finished NYC in a time of 5:14:52, ran with Small’s picture on her back, and kept his ashes in a run-belt around her waist.
“It took me an hour longer than my last marathon,” Charney said, “and I was coming into it with an injured achilles, but my goal was to finish, and I did.”
And, says Charney, so did Small.