CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than 6,000 runners filled the streets for the Charlotte Marathon Saturday morning.
One group stood out from the rest. That’s because they were wearing weighted backpacks for the half marathon. Some were as heavy as 47 pounds. They’re called themselves the Ruck Division and they support veterans and military families.
“I am specifically out here rucking in honor of my fiancé who passed away just a few days ago,” Melissa Roth said.
Roth says her fiancé, Chris Stefanucci, served in the military for six years. His time included two deployments in Iraq and one in Korea.
“He came home with the things that you come home with in war and he fought everyday to beat that,” Roth said.
Roth says Chris died in his sleep and they are still waiting for the autopsy results.
“I was feeling really low and I was speaking with some of his army buddies,” Roth said.
They told her about the Ruck Division in the Charlotte Half Marathon and she signed up one day before the race.
“It’s a good outlet for them to deal with the tragedies in their life or even the fellowship part of it,” rucker Michael Sweeting said.
“It’s something where we all have the same military mindset,” rucker Jeremy Hamilton said. “When we go through hard times, we all bond together and bring each other together.”
Roth says said she knows her Chris would appreciate remembering him in this way.
“I’m doing this for you baby,” Roth said. “I know you think I am crazy for doing this. Just don’t ever forget that I love you.”