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Runners race in remembrance of Maj. Megan McClung

Marines stand by the finish line clapping for finishers of the race that honored McClung who was killed while serving in Iraq.  The race, along with a similar event in Afghanistan, helped raise money for the Semper Fi Fund. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Marines stand by the finish line clapping for finishers of the race that honored McClung who was killed while serving in Iraq. The race, along with a similar event in Afghanistan, helped raise money for the Semper Fi Fund.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

When Megan McClung arrived somewhere, there was no doubt she had arrived. Her flaming red hair and strong personality earned her nicknames like “Firecracker,” “Tigger” and “Ladybug.” So it wasn’t surprising on Saturday morning to see hundreds of people at the Navy base anxious to keep her memory alive.

Coupeville residents Mike and Re McClung held a race to honor their daughter Megan McClung who was killed in Iraq while working as a public affairs officer. About 237 people ran in the Whidbey Island race and 550 ran in a similar race in Afghanistan for Megan, the biggest turnouts yet. All of the money raised through race registration and donations was given to the Semper Fi Fund which aids injured Marines and Navy Corpsmen.

Right before the runners headed to the starting line, Chaplain King led a prayer.

“Help us today to be better than we were before,” he said, “just like Megan would want. ... As in her words, help us to be bold, be brief and right now, to be gone.”

Next year, the McClungs want to do something special for the race’s fifth anniversary. They’re considering using a PA system to ensure better organization and may even add a half marathon course. Additionally, 1st Lt. Joe Diniega said the base will increase planning time for future races.

“Hopefully it gets better and bigger ever year,” Diniega said.

All of the runners seemed inspired out on the course and appeared to enjoy themselves.

Heidi Vongrey came with her daughter’s cross-country team. She said she had read about the cause and, despite her lack of cardio training, felt compelled to attend.

“We just woke up and put our shoes on,” she said.

Another participant crossed the finish line with a large smile on his face, ran over to Megan’s parents and said, “What a wonderful thing this is. As long as I can run, I’ll be here.”

Re McClung, Megan’s mom, said a race was a perfect medium for the fundraiser since physical fitness was so important to Megan. According to Re, often after Megan would complete a race, she would run backwards from the finish line and bring water bottles to those who were struggling to encourage them to continue.

“She’s out there on the course today somewhere,” Re McClung said. “I’m sure of it.”

To see a video of the run in Afghanistan, click HERE.

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