More than 2,000 runners hit the streets of Beaumont for the Gusher Marathon on March 9, 2013. Some of the participants were running for more than just health and fun. 12News caught up to one 56-year-old runner from Houston who runs for bigger cause than himself.
"I can do that." That's the idea Felix Lugo had 16 years ago when he was volunteering at the Houston Marathon.
Lugo tells 12News, "First marathon, 40-years-old, bucket list check it off, move on with the rest of your life."
As of the Gusher this past weekend, Felix can now check off 50 marathons, 27 in which he has carried the American flag. The idea came to him after 9/11 opened up old wounds and gave his father the freedom to talk about his experiences as a Korean War Veteran.
Lugo said, "I knew about the canteen, the poncho, being a rifleman, but that's all he would talk about, then he started talking about loosing his buddies, people dying in fox holes with him, and so I came out of that breakfast and I'm like, I thought I knew this man, but I really didn't know him and I said I have to do something."
As a veteran himself, Felix knows the sacrifices soldiers make so our flag can fly in freedom. And although runs get tough, like in the Bataan Death March in the blazing sun, or in the Gusher this weekend in the brutal wind, he carries the flag not as a burden, but as a proud reminder.
He told 12News, "So I'm hoping, just don't forget and when they see the flag, that the see not a political statement, but it's more of a patriotic deal."
After fighting the wind for 26.2 miles, Felix finished in just over six hours, the last to cross the finish line. But he wins first in the hearts of many.
He explains, "There are no words. How can you describe something like that, the flags, the freedom riders, the sergeant major coin and for one of the female finishers to give me her medal, on top of that… grateful.. eternally grateful.
Dan Caywood Outdoors gave Felix an American made flag to run with on Saturday. This is Felix's 2nd Gusher marathon and he says he doesn't plan to stop running any time soon.