Brandon Sodergren is a senior criminology major, member of the wrestling team and a student senator. Before attending USM, Sodergren served in the Marines for six years beginning in 2006, including two tours–one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan–as an infantry machine gunner. Now he spends his free time running marathons and fundraising in honor of fallen service members and their families.
Sodergren began running marathons in 2012 when he participated in the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C. “It ends in Arlington at the National Cemetery–it was very emotional,” he said. In 2013 Sodergren ran in two more marathons, the Marine Corp Marathon again and the Army Marathon.
He’s also participated in the Maine half-marathon and multiple five and ten kilometer road races since 2012, but the 2014 Boston Marathon will be his fourth marathon. Sodergren also intends to run the full Maine Marathon later this year. “Every time I’ve run, I’ve run in honor of a fallen comrade,” he said.
Today Sodergren is in Boston, running in the 118th Boston Marathon in honor of Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo, a fallen marine. Sodergren is one of the 12 members of the Run for the Fallen team honoring Maine’s fallen service members and fundraising for Maine’s Military Gold Star Families. A banner, or service flag, with a gold star is traditionally presented to families that had a military family member killed in action.
Although Sodergren never met Arredondo personally, he’s known Arredondo’s father Carlos Arredondo for two years. “I met his father in 2012 at the annual Run for the Fallen–it was a long run then–we ran from Ogunquit to Portland that year, but since 2013 it’s been a 5k,” said Sodergren.
There are two ways to enter the Boston Marathon as an official entrant. Runners must either have run in a prior marathon with a qualifying time (which ranges between three to five hours dependent on age and gender), or fundraise by running for a charity.
“I’d rather raise the money and awareness of a good charity and Run for the Fallen is one of the best charities you can run for,” said Sodergren. Although he does intend to train for a qualifying marathon time in future years.
Carlos Arredondo and John Mixon–the founder of Run for the Fallen–were at the finish line about 20 yards from the bomb that detonated in the crowd at the Boston Marathon last year. Sodergren who didn’t run recalled receiving a text a few hours later from Mixon saying that they were okay. Carlos Arredondo became known as one of the bystanders that quickly jumped the barricade to help the victims of the blast. “Everyone knows him as the guy with the cowboy hat,” said Sodergren.
When Mixon spoke to the Bangor Daily News about the events that took place at the Boston Marathon he commented on Carlos Arredondo’s actions saying “The guy has been through so much tragedy, and to react the way he did under that kind of stress and pressure is just amazing.” The article was about the heroic actions of Carlos Arredondo and John Mixon, and Arredondo’s ties to Bangor, Maine. It was published on April 16, 2013.
“When we went to a Bruins game last year–it was me, John and Carlos–we couldn’t walk 20 feet without people stopping to get a picture of him, some people wanted his autograph,” said Sodergren. “It’s like everybody knows who he is, especially in the Boston area, but even people around here–he’s really well known as a hero, which he is, and his son is too.”
Carlos Arredondo will be returning to the marathon this year to support Sodergren and the other members of the Run for the Fallen team.
“It’s going to be a good feeling, crossing the finish and seeing him there,” said Sodergren.
Run for the Fallen has already raised $47,620 of their $50,000 goal to be dispersed among the families of 14 fallen Maine service men. Sodergren has raised $935 in honor of Alexander Arredondo. You can make a donation to Run for the Fallen Maine on their Crowdrise Boston 2014 webpage.
A press release from the Boston Athletic Association on April 11 outlined the changes to this year’s Boston Marathon including the 33 percent increase of the field size allowing 36,000 entrants versus the previously established 27,000 limit of entrants in recent years.
The increase of participants makes this the second largest Boston Marathon in the 118 years of the marathon’s history. The largest amount of participants was during The Centennial Boston Marathon in 1996 with a starting field of 37,808 entrants. Included in this year’s registered entrants are 5,330 international runners representing 70 countries.
From the ‘By The Numbers’ section of the marathon’s official website there are 36,000 official entrants, 80,000 people attending the expo, and 10,000 volunteers. In addition to these numbers there are over 10,000 first responders standing by–comprised of medical and security personnel and police officers.
“We are making a statement, we’re not going to live in fear because of terrorism and I think that’s the important thing,” said Sodergren. “We’re going to have a great marathon and they’re not going to scare us.”