Guardmembers run Show-Me State Games torch to opening ceremonies

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The Missouri National Guard marathon team recently ran the Show-Me State Games torch from the steps of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City to the KOMU Channel 8 building in Columbia.

Eight Soldiers ran for four hours along U.S. Highway 63. They endured 25 miles of harsh black road, intense heat and unforgiving humidity.

Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, introduced the team on the Capitol steps and commended the Show-Me State Games.

"The Missouri National Guard and the Show-Me State Games share the same spirit of leadership and teamwork which makes both so strong," said Sidwell.

The torch and lighting of the cauldron is a symbol of the start of the games, and they were deeply honored to participate, said Army Staff Sgt. Michelle Elliot.

"It was such a neat experience," said Elliot, who ran 19 miles. "The people driving along the way would honk and wave. That was truly motivating."

The runners divided the distance into a relay and passed the torch every four miles. To find solace from the heat, the Soldiers would run in pairs for conversation or think of ways to push themselves further.

"I kept telling myself I can make it to the next road sign," said Army 2nd Lt. Cody Anfinson, who ran eight miles. "After I'd pass that one I'd think 'okay, I can make it to the next one.'"

For others, the reward at the end was sufficient motivation.

"The sweat was just rolling off me," said Warrant Officer Roger Fillmer, who ran 10 miles. "The humidity makes it so much harder. It was a challenge that was entirely worth it when you get there on the stage and saw all the people at the ceremony."

During the opening ceremonies the team handed the torch to the Show-Me States Games featured guest Missouri Tigers Quarterback Chase Daniel.

The Soldiers are highly trained athletes. They've participated in other difficult team events including the Army 10-Miler Team, in which they hope to win first for the third time in a row this year, and the Bataan Death March, where they took first place in March. 

"They're an amazing team," said Sidwell. "They're a great example of integrity to uphold and admire. You don't reach the level of success of these men and women without an extraordinary commitment level."

This is the first time the team has participated in the games and the Soldiers hope to do it again, said Elliot.

The Missouri National Guard marathon team included Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Maze, Warrant Officer Roger Fillmer, Staff Sgt. Bo Epple, 2nd Lt Cody Anfinson, Sgt 1st Class Kannon John, 1st Sgt. Dean Byers, Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Turner, and Staff Sgt. Michelle Elliot.

For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.