Jennifer Hickey never served in the military, but her daily physical regimen rivals the type you see on any military installation.
"Generally, I run between six and 10 miles every day from the National Guard Memorial Museum in northwest D.C. to the U.S. Marine Corps War Museum in Arlington," Hickey said. "It's about five miles one-way, and five miles back."
Her motivation isn't tied to losing weight, body composition, or reducing stress, instead it's memorializing the fallen.
"In 2012, I ran a marathon and dedicated it to my father who I lost at age seven," Hickey said. "Then in 2014, I decided to set a goal to run 14 marathons and instead finished the year with 28."
Hickey, an employee for the National Guard Association of the U.S., is also an advocate for families adjusting to loss. After working with organizations like Comfort Zone Camp, and the Travis Manion Foundation, the marathoner drafted a robust personal operation order.
"In 2018, I set a goal to run a marathon in memory of a service member from every state and territory," Hickey said. "I've run marathons in 46 states so far. I was unable to serve in the military, but I can serve those who do serve."
To date, she's completed 240 marathons. And just this year she's run marathons in Utah, Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. and Arlington County Oct. 29.
"This is about more than my passion for running," Hickey said. "It's values and it's principles, and I hope it speaks to people."
Her completed Oct. 29 run at 03:58:24 was in honor of Spc. Darryl T. Dent, a D.C. National Guard member assigned to the 547th Transportation Company. The 21-year-old died Aug. 26, 2003, when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle in Southeast Arimaji, Iraq.
"He's not forgotten," Hickey said. "With this being his 20th anniversary, I know that certain anniversaries hit harder for loved ones. I know this from personal experience when my father died. I want Dent's 'family' to know that their son, brother, friend, and fellow Guardsman has not been forgotten."
During the race, Hickey wore Dent's picture on her back for both runners and spectators to see. A photo, bib and finisher medal will be sent to Dent's family.
"I want to show Spc. Dent's family that their sacrifice is not forgotten and neither is his service. What I'm doing is such a small sacrifice when you look at the larger picture," she said. "I enjoy the hard work, because this is about doing something that's bigger than yourself. It's service, commitment, freedom, and celebrating the lives behind it. I also think that's what the National Guard stands for -- not only serving overseas, but serving in the community. And that's where real change occurs."
When you've completed hundreds of marathons, you're bound to face physical and mental challenges. Hickey said when she hits a wall she reflects on the people who inspire her.
"I call them my anchors, they're the people who remind me why I'm doing this," she said. "Crossing the finish line is honestly humbling for me. I thank God I'm able to run."
Hickey's already thinking of the next race she'll sign up for. Her message for spectators at her next race or reading this story: Do something for others.
"My personal motto is 'whatever you do best, do it in the service of others,'" she said. "Not everybody wants to run a marathon. If you're artistic, draw an incredible picture and donate it to a veteran's organization, or if you're a writer, write something. Whatever you're good at, just think of your community."