WATERTOWN — Ashleigh Burto and Katie Dermody were waiting for their husbands to cross the finish line at the Memorial to Monument Run event held at Thompson Park on Saturday morning.
Jason Burto ran in the 5K race, while Major Brian Dermody participated in the 11-mile run from Fort Drum Memorial Park to the 20-foot-tall “Honor the Mountain” 10th Mountain Division monument in the city park.
“There’s Daddy!” Mrs. Burto yelled out to their children, Vivienne and Gabriel just before Mr. Burto finished the 5K.
A few minutes later, Major Dermody, of the 36 Field Artillery, approached the finish line.
It was a good way to spend a Saturday in Thompson Park, Mrs. Burto said.
“We think it’s great to support the soldiers,” she said.
The Memorial to Monument Run was conceived during a meeting three years ago to find ways to connect Fort Drum with the city.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Watertown YMCA and Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Fort Drum put on the event.
More than 580 soldiers and other people participated in the 11-mile run from Fort Drum, along the Black River Trail and to the monument. Another 230 runners ran in the 5K, while 50 kids participated in the Ninja Warrior children’s course.
Organizers made an effort to turn the run into more of an event with activities for the entire family.
They included a bouncy house, climbing wall, face painting, photo booth, a USO information table, food concession and the live music of a Fort Drum band, Avalanche, playing a mixture of rock, country, jazz and pop.
After they finished, runners stood in line for plastic cups of beer — a session IPA called, of course, “A Day in Thompson Park,” and a blackberry wheat, from Garland City Beer Works.
Some participants stopped to pose for photos in front of the monument that honors the men and women who served in the 10th Mountain Division.
Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erin E. Gardner said it was perfect running weather. The rain held off and a small breeze made it comfortable, she said.
She was happy the number of runners doubled from last year’s first Memorial to Monument Run, and she hopes to get more for next year’s event.
“It’s events like this why I love my job,” she said.
Money raised by the 5K run will go to support activities for soldiers and their families.