When Kelly Brackin crossed the finish line at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, she became the first woman to complete the Run for the Heroes, a 260-mile ultra marathon that raises money for the House of Heroes.
"It's awesome," said the 31-year-old dental hygienist.
What made it truly remarkable is that early in the five-day run the married mother of two got poison ivy on both ankles.
"The poison ivy, that was the hardest part," said Brackin, who trained for six months, having never done a run of this distance before. Most days on the Run for the Heroes she began running at 2 a.m. to avoid the heat.
The five-day run raised more than $160,000 for the organization, which does repairs at no charge on the homes of veterans and their spouses.
"The first four runs together raised $220,000," said Susan Gerkin, the executive director of the Chattahoochee Valley Chapter of House of Heroes.
There were 253 runners participating. Nine ran alone and the others were on 28 relay teams. The run began at 4 a.m. Wednesday.
Of the nine runners, two had to drop out for medical reasons, said John Teeples, the founder of the event.
Teeples finished the run in four days, arriving at the finish line on Broadway at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
He was not, however, the first to finish. That was Dane Talbert, a contractor with Homemaster Builders. He came in at 6:30 p.m.
Talbert said he couldn't sleep, so he just kept running.
"I just wanted to get it
over with as soon as possible." he said.
He went the final 100 miles with what he believes is a stress fracture in his left foot.
Talbert called the run the "hardest thing I've ever done."
The run used to be from Columbus to Savannah, but this year it went from Fort Stewart, Ga., to Columbus. In years past, the reception for the runners was not very big. This year, there was food, a band and plenty of supporters to greet them.
"This is much better," said a smiling Teeples. "It is quite a party."
Teeples, who owns John Teeples Construction in Fortson, Ga., as well as two downtown businesses, Big Dog Running Company and Iron Bank Coffee Company, made the first run by himself in 2009.
"When he came in the office and told me what he wanted to do, I thought he was crazy," said Gerkin. "It is just amazing what it has become."