KILLEEN — The Army Marathon may have been in its first year of existence in 2013, but for Killeen attorney Steve Walden, it didn’t matter.
It was a marathon in his backyard and a chance for the veteran to help out military charities.
“This is the Army Marathon right here where soldiers really are,” Walden said. “There’s no bigger installation than Fort Hood, so I thought it was very important that we get our own marathon here.”
Walden served in the Army for a total of seven years, three as an enlisted member and four as a judge advocate.
Qualify for Boston Marathon
The Orlando, Fla., native took advantage of his first Army Marathon experience, qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
After the bombing last year, Walden knew he had to be part of the crowd that would run and show off the resilience of the event and American citizens during the 2014 Boston Marathon in April.
“I knew that I was not going to miss this race for anything,” Walden said.
The 118th Boston Marathon is April 21.
Walden, 44, qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon by running a time of 3:12.49 at the Army Marathon last year.
Walden will be volunteering at this year’s Army Marathon on March 2 as a starting line coordinator because the race falls too close to the Boston Marathon to participate as a runner.
“This is all very, very positive and helps legitimize the Army Marathon as a great course to come to help qualify,” Army Marathon race director Ed Bandas said.
The second Army Marathon begins at 7 a.m. March 2. The course begins in Killeen just outside of Fort Hood and goes through Harker Heights, Nolanville and Belton before ending in Temple.
The Army Marathon II also has a half marathon and 5k run.
Walden remembers April 15 vividly.
He was sitting at his desk during a normal workday when he began getting text messages from friends asking about his safety.
“Suddenly I started getting some emails and other texts,” Walden said. “‘Are you in Boston?’ ‘Where are you?’”
This year’s Boston Marathon will have a field of 36,000 runners, an increase of 9,000 over its usual size.
Walden said he took up running in high school and the passion and drive never went away. Even during the grueling eight to 12 weeks before a marathon race.
“At an early age I started really liking to race, and I stayed with it pretty much all of my life,” Walden said.