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Members of 13th company, at the start of the running of the game ball from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., to Philadelphia. From left: 13th company officer Marine Corps Capt. Joseph Groah and 13th company commander Midshipman 1st Class Ronald Torgeson, carrying the ball. Behind them are, from left, Senior Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Carlsen, Midshipman 1st Class Matt Mangaran and Midshipman 1st Class Mark Bender.
Members of 13th company, at the start of the running of the game ball from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., to Philadelphia. From left: 13th company officer Marine Corps Capt. Joseph Groah and 13th company commander Midshipman 1st Class Ronald Torgeson, carrying the ball. Behind them are, from left, Senior Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Carlsen, Midshipman 1st Class Matt Mangaran and Midshipman 1st Class Mark Bender. (Gin Kai / Courtesy of U.S. Naval Academy)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Karoline Hood said she has wanted to run for West Point since she was a teenager and her brother was a cadet at the school.

“I remember going into the Army-Navy game and watching the marathon team run to the stadium and thinking, I’d like to do that,” said Hood.

Now a senior at West Point, Hood, 21, is one of 20 cadets tasked with running a game ball from West Point, some 30 miles north of New York City, through northern New Jersey to Philadelphia for Saturday’s Army-Navy game.

Both Army and Navy are running game balls to the stadium, both of which will be used during the game, said West Point spokesman Francis DeMaro Jr.

West Point cadets will run between 10 and 12 miles for the nearly 144-mile trek to Philadelphia, Hood said.

The cadets are driven for parts of the trip because it is too dangerous to run on freeways, DeMaro explained.

Hood said she started running when she was a high school sophomore.

“I love running, and I just thought it would be exciting to run onto the field and hand the ball off to the first captain,” she said.

She said the marathon team has been planning the event for the past couple of months.

“I never realized all the details that are involved,” said Hood, who helped organize the run.

As part of the run, she had to contact police in three states, make sure participants have hotel rooms and ensure that runners wear reflective vests when they run at night.

Annapolis senior Matthew Mangaran said he is one of five midshipmen who have been working on the event’s logistics since last year.

“It’s pretty tough, but it’s something that needs to get done,” Mangaran said.

Mangaran is one of the roughly 130 midshipmen running the roughly 124 miles from Annapolis to Philadelphia in 55 legs between two and four miles, he said.

By running through the night, the midshipmen are showing their respect for how hard the Navy team works, he said.

“We’re staying up and working hard with them. Although it’s not the same magnitude, it’s something,” he said.

Running the game ball to the Army-Navy game is the equivalent of running the Olympic torch, Mangaran said.

He said the two service academies enjoy a healthy rivalry, but students at both schools understand they are “brothers.”

This year marks the third time Mangaran has made the run to Philadelphia, he said.

The trick to doing it is to work through the pain by remembering why he is running, he said.

“Eventually it will just go away,” he said.

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