Wearing a shirt that says “Valor Knows No Gender,” Edmonds resident and retired Marine Major Bridget Guerrero is in the final stages of preparing for a solo 160-mile run through the Puget Sound area, one mile for each of the 160 service women who have lost their lives in the Global War on Terror.
The Valor Run was started last year by Guerrero’s friend and classmate, U.S. Navy Captain Nancy Lacore, who served in Afghanistan from 2011-2012. Lacore came up with the idea of running one mile for every service woman killed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and completed the first run herself in October 2014.
Shortly after completing the run, Lacore sent out a newsletter, and Guerrero was among the recipients.
“It was two days before Thanksgiving, and I was reading the newsletter over breakfast,” she said. “It hit me like a freight train. I immediately knew that I just had to do this.”
Guerrero is no stranger to running, completing her first marathon as a teenager. “My dad ran marathons, and when I was 16 he issued me a challenge: ‘if you can beat me in a marathon, I’ll buy you a car.'” She took the challenge, bested her dad,and soon found herself behind the wheel of used 1968 orange MGB that had “definitely seen better days.”
But it was more than getting a car. This experience ignited a love of running as a way to push herself to take on more and bigger challenges, and over the years it has grown into a major force in defining her life and who she is.
Since that first 26-mile run, Guerrero has gone beyond marathons to enter the rarified world of 50-mile plus ultra marathons. She reports that she’s participated in “more than 100 ultras,” But at 160 miles, the Valor Run presents new challenges, not the least of which is that she’ll be doing it solo.
The run will begin on July 23 at 8:30 a.m. at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The course takes her over Deception Pass, through LaConner, Marysville, Everett and Seattle, finally ending in Lakewood at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. She will complete the run in four consecutive days, meaning that she’ll be running 40 miles per day. That’s a marathon and a half per day, with no break in between.
“The Valor Run is definitely a bump up for me,” she says. “But it’s my way. As a Marine I feel I need to push myself and do something hard to memorialize something hard.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel