The Uniformed Services Run is a race that is new to me. This is the sixth year the run has been hosted by ANE and the first time I have taken part. I couldn't have picked a better year for my inaugural USR.
As most Newfoundlanders know, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. If you are anywhere in the older parts of St. John's, your bound to see the signs, banners and displays that commemorate the sacrifice of so many young men who died during the First World War. ANE decided to incorporate these soldiers into their race by assigning each runner a fallen soldier. The race bibs held the names and service numbers of those who died and everyone received a beautiful finisher medal, complete with the caribou, the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
We had the option of choosing a soldier to run for. As far as I know, none of my ancestors perished during WW1, but the name Simeon Rogers caught my attention. I did have a great uncle named Simeon Rodgers who, coincidentally, also died in 1917 when the train he was traveling on derailed and caught fire. Though they were two different people, since they had the same name I thought it could be possible that if I looked back far enough, I just might discover that we are distant cousins.
I did a little research on Simeon. According to his military file, his last reported address was 176 Water Street - the building that currently holds the Kitchen Queen store. His parents were Willis and Sarah Rogers. He was married to Bertha and they had four children, ranging in age from two to nine when he was killed on January 25th, 1917.
Simeon was assigned to the HMS Laurentic. They sailed from Ireland on the afternoon of the 25th and ran straight into two German mines. While it was reported that all men safely made it to life boats, the weather was too stormy for them to reach shore and more than 350 men died from exposure. Simeon was 31 years old.
While we could have run a half marathon or half marathon relay, myself and the girls chose the 10K option for the race. Lori and Paula were slightly ahead of myself and Renee the entire time, and though we had every intention of catching up so we could cross the finish line together, in the end it didn't happen. Most likely because there was an impromptu photo shoot somewhere around kilometer eight.
Even though we didn't cross the finish line at the same time, our names did end up together in the results.
It was a great race and I was pleased to see how many others took the time to learn a little something about the soldier they ran for. We have the freedom to take part in events like this and have fun along the way because of men like them. I hope we will always remember the fallen.