Most runners look upon the NYC Marathon as a monumental achievement just to complete. What happens when you look at the Marathon as just being the equivalent of a fast jog in the park? Billy Richards, a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Islip, and a member of Team Mission United is not the least bit concerned about completing 26.2 miles.
Richards is a running machine. He has competed in 10 full marathons, 4 ultra marathons covering distances of up to 100 miles, 10 Tough Mudder obstacle races, Spartan races and on the winning team of a 48 hour Death Race for ultra athletes.
With all of those significant athletic achievements, it still pales in comparison to Billy’s ulterior motive; Racing in many of those events with a 45lb military pack on his back while waving the American flag to bring awareness to those veterans suffering from PTSD.
Richards enlisted in the military not only once, but twice. He first joined the Marines and served at Camp Lejeune. Six years later he enlisted in the Army and served as a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg.
Billy was racing with the back pack for some years but received a new inspiration in 2014. Richards said, “I was getting ready to run in the Fourth of July Firecracker 5K in Oakdale. I had done some training runs holding an American flag and decided what better day to carry it in an actual race than on the Fourth of July.”
Billy ran with pack and flag in the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon in 2015. Although his efforts are often solo, he has joined the Airborne Tri Team, a group of Long Island military veterans who are all top runners who also compete with packs and flags.
When Richards was asked to compete in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon for Team Mission United he did not hesitate. He remarked, “I have a sincere dedication to my running and support of fellow vets. The intensity I see displayed by the Mission United program in helping active military and returning vets prosper compliments my philosophy of focus and caring.”
With all of Billy Richards achievements, you might think that he looks at the NYC Marathon as just another race to showcase his mission to support veterans. Not true though. Richards in an understated way said, “Hey, it’s not every day that you get a chance to run in the New York City Marathon.”