Wyandotte County Deputy Sheriffs Theresa Sue King and Patrick Thomas Rohrer.
Clinton Police Officer Christopher Ryan Morton.
Officers in the San Antonio Police Department.
They all lost their lives in the line of duty.
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Kansas City, Kan., police officer Carlos Mena remembers them.
So for the last six weeks he’s donned his uniform and 30 pounds of gear: bulletproof vest, heavy work boots, radio, baton, gun, magazine pouch, pepper spray and handcuffs. Then he’s run 15 to 20 miles, once a week on the track at Kansas City, Kan., Community College, to train for the Kansas City Marathon.
“We can go to work and it is not always guaranteed we’ll come back. Anything can happen,” Mena said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Kansas side, Missouri side, all the way in Texas, Chicago, New York or LAPD. Every time a police officer dies we all feel that, all across the nation. That’s somebody that should have gone home. It hurts still, every time I think about it.”
Shortly before sunrise Saturday, he lined up with more than 9,000 athletes running in the 33rd Kansas City Marathon. Mena averages a 10-minute mile but his gear and boots knocked him back to the 12 minute group.
By mile 20, the pain nearly became unbearable — the boots, the weight of the vest. But other officers working security cheered him on. He wasn’t running 26.2 miles to set a personal best, but to honor the fallen officers. He didn’t want it to be easy.
He kept up his 12-minute-mile pace, finishing in 5:13:46:24. About 1,800 people signed up for the full marathon. He recovered a bit on a park bench in Washington Square Park.
“They believed in the greater good and I want to remind everyone of the sacrifices these officers made for the blue line and to protect the community,” Mena said. “If I have to run this really hard race to bring attention to that I will do it again.”
As he headed off with family for burgers and sweet potato fries at Westport’s Beer Kitchen, another marathoner came to a halt, taking in Mena’s outfit from heavy vest to boots but with a runner’s bib.
“You ran? In that? I want to shake your hand,” she said as she reached out.