Family runs in solidarityJill Johnson's 23 family members and friends stood out Saturday as they ran the River City Half Marathon and 5K in their pink camouflage T-shirts. The front of the shirts read, "Runnin' with the Bulls" and the back said, "COB Basra, Iraq; Red Wing, MN."
By: Ryan Nilsson, The Republican Eagle
Jill Johnson's 23 family members and friends stood out Saturday as they ran the River City Half Marathon and 5K in their pink camouflage T-shirts. The front of the shirts read, "Runnin' with the Bulls" and the back said, "COB Basra, Iraq; Red Wing, MN."
Race organizers took notice and presented the group with the River City Ramble Inspirational Award because of the story behind those shirts.
Johnson is a member of the National Guard’s 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, the same division that suffered three casualties in a July 16 missile strike near Basra. She plays the French horn and piano in the band and deployed to the Middle East on April 19.
Saturday was her 28th birthday and Johnson’s sister, Molly Dickerson, organized the group run in Red Wing because it was centrally located for the participants.
“It’s just a little way to show our support,” said Johnson’s mom, Sue.
Johnson, a native of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., is the runner in the family.
“We pretend,” said Johnson’s sister, Mandy.
Johnson has run two marathons and, for her part, planned to run a 5K in Iraq Sunday, according to Dickerson. When Johnson returns from Iraq her goal is to qualify for the country’s most famous marathon.
“That’s her goal, to get to the Boston Marathon one of these days when she gets back,” Sue Johnson said. “She enjoys it very much.”
Over e-mail Johnson shared her running knowledge, answering questions from people who were training to run the half marathon.
Dickerson completed the race in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 30 seconds. About 30 minutes later the group she had organized was presented with the inspirational award.
“She’ll be very happy to hear that it was a success,” Sue Johnson said of her daughter, Jill.