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'Road Race Ruckers' return, hitting the streets to remember fallen troops

For the 85th annual race, the team is focusing on honoring those who were killed in August at the airport in Afghanistan.

EAST GRANBY, Conn. — David Bouchard, a retired Marine captain, started his Thanksgiving Day tradition of honoring fellow troops about ten years ago. Now, others are following in his footsteps.

Bouchard spent 15 years in the Marines and embarks on a 31-mile trek every Thanksgiving morning. With a 30-pound ruck sack strapped to his back, he walks and runs 26 miles and then joins the Manchester Road Race, which is a nearly 5-mile push.

RELATED: Manchester Road Race is a step closer to the starting line

"It started off as just a fun way to start Thanksgiving, the relative word being “fun” and then it morphed into something greater -- which is remembering the fallen," Bouchard said.

This year, the 'Road Race Ruckers' are a team of 16 men and women who plan to leave East Granby at around 12:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning for their epic trek.

Bouchard noted that for the 85th annual race, the team is focusing on honoring the troops who were killed in August at the airport in Afghanistan.

"These are the 13 that lost their lives in Afghanistan in late August during the withdrawal, everybody has a picture – all 13 faces so it’s not just a statistic," Bouchard added.

The pictures of the fallen troops are pinned on the runners’ ruck sacks.

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Tim Smith, a former Army paratrooper from Newington is running as part of the team for the first time this year.

"It’s really to just represent our fallen service members to remember them and to constantly think about them," he said.

Fellow team member Karri Moran said she looks forward to the way it allows her to honor her father, a Vietnam veteran, and others that he served with. 

Between running – and rucking – Bouchard says the 31-mile long journey should take somewhere around 11 hours. Bouchard added, “to get the focus on something greater than one person, that’s what this is all about.” 

To learn more about the 'Road Race Ruckers', click here to contact Dave Bouchard or visit their new Facebook group. 

RELATED: 85th Manchester Road Race: What you need to know

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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