MILLINOCKET (NEWS CENTER Maine) — More than 2,500 runners are expected to brace the cold Saturday and run in this year's Millinocket Marathon and Half Marathon.
Some runners in the race will try to qualify for larger marathons. Others will run to feel a sense of accomplishment. But for the six racers who volunteer with the Summit Project, it means more than just completing the 26.2 miles.
The volunteers will be carrying stones bearing the names of fallen Maine veterans during the race.
The Summit Project works to ensure Maine veterans are not forgotten by carrying those stones with them on hikes and other trips around the country. In this case, they’ll be holding onto them during the Millinocket Marathon.
"To be able to carry these stones, you feel that weight and you keep pushing," said Summit Project volunteer Andrea Cutler. "It’s an emotional and mental prep and it all falls into place."
Cutler’s brother, Aaron Marquis lost his life serving in 2009. The Millinocket native will now be remembered by his sister, as well as five other runners carrying stones in his hometown.
Countless other Millinocket residents are ready to pay their respects to Marquis as his stone is brought to his hometown.
"Millinocket never got to have any closure," Cutler said. "There was no service for him in Millinocket, so this is a great way to bring a little bit of him home and honoring him in the area that he loved."
The Summit Project is a nonprofit and is free to nominate fallen veterans to have their name placed on a stone. The organization is based out of Portland, Maine.
The Millinocket Marathon begins Saturday at 10 a.m.