March 8, 2021 —
"You sound like a runner. Want to join us?"
That's how most conversations start when you talk about the Tom's Run relay with its race director, Roger K. Butturini. The 200-mile team relay event starts in Cumberland, Md., and ends near Alexandria, Va. But the event is designed so that everybody can participate, regardless of location.
You can run the equivalent of a relay leg in your location, or build a remote team. Units from all over the country and even some underway cutters have participated in Tom’s Run.
“This is not a fundraiser. It’s about celebrating our shared sense of togetherness and reliance," said Butturini, a self-described "shameless promotor" for Tom's Run. "I know of no other 'race' organized like ours. Instead of running away from each other, we are running toward each other to all finish at the same time."
The relay started as a tribute to Chief Warrant Officer Tom Brooks, and to help raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease). "A worthy goal, but I thought we were missing the point," said Butturini, who became race director in 2008. "I decided instead to celebrate Tom Brooks' sense of the Coast Guard community."
After Brooks succumbed to the disease in 2004, he left a legacy of bringing people together. And that's what happens during Tom's Run - the goal isn't to win, but to simply be together. "The focus on community keeps us going. We Coasties live it, and our non-Coast Guard participants feel it from us."
For over a decade, a group of civilians got together each year to do Tom's Run. It was the only time they saw each other. "We've had kids, uncles, grandpas, grandmas and dogs on Tom's Run," Butturini said. "Look at the video on our website - everyone is smiling, on a 200-mile relay that also includes biking! I think that says it all."
The 23rd Annual Tom's Run will be held June 4 through June 6. All Coast Guard active duty, reserve, auxiliary, and civilian personnel are eligible to participate. The event is also open to other military services and the general public. Team applications that include T-shirt or medal orders must be received by April 19. All other applications must be received by May 3. The run is hosted by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Chief Warrant and Warrant Officers Association.
In case you're wondering, Butturini closes his conversations the same way as they start - with an offer to tell you more stories about Tom's Run, and one last question. "By the way, want to join us this year?"
- Visit the official website to learn about the official Tom’s Run Relay team application, history, the course map, the point, accommodations and other information.
- If you need more information, email Roger K. Butturini or call him at 703-969-9106.