(08/23/13) - After a 22-year absence, one Mid-Michigan native will lace up his running shoes Saturday for the main event at the Health Plus Crim Festival of Races.
While he was gone, he managed to keep the Crim spirit alive a long way from the bricks of Saginaw Street.
"In 1991, I ran it with my dad. We ran it together and that was the last Crim I've done. I joined the military in 1994," said Sfc. Will Stratton.
Sgt. Stratton missed the thrill of the Crim while stationed overseas.
"In 2008, it was my last tour of Iraq, my fifth tour and I decided to run a race there," he said.
He contacted his father, who thought it was great idea.
"He sent out some T-shirts and finishing medals. I convinced 14 of my comrades to come out there and run around a 1.1 kilometer track. We needed about 16 times around it. About 94 degrees when we started, 104 when we stopped," he said.
Stratton, now stationed in Virginia, is looking forward to his return to the official course.
"This will be the homecoming to wrap it all up," he said.
Stratton plans to carry the American flag throughout the run, even up the dreaded Bradley Hills.
"They take your legs out from under you. But if you pace yourself, do the run-walk thing, then you can make it through them," he said.
He wants the flag to serve as a reminder to the folks stateside.
"I want to bring attention to the fact we still have soldiers deployed; men and women have served since 9/11 and serve as a reminder we're still out there, still folks fighting," Stratton said.
Bill Stratton, the father, has been involved with the Crim for 27 years. He's also looking forward to this year's event.
"This is the best Crim that I've been at in all the years. The second best would be in 1991 when we ran together," he said.
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