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Flag Runners

flagSome 23,363 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes took to the streets in the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon on Sunday. But amidst the masses, it was easy to spot Eddie Hernandez and his sister, Michelle Hernandez.

Running the half marathon as a relay, the Hernandezes carried a huge American flag. Michelle covered the first six miles. Eddie took the flag home the last 7.2.

“The flag is everything,” said Eddie, who served in the U.S. Army for 6½ years, including a one-year deployment to Iraq. “I have buddies who died for it.”

Eddie and Michelle live in San Diego. It was the second straight year they’ve run the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon carrying the flag. Their cousin, Ryan Aguirre, and Aguirre’s friend, Tanya Taylor, also pulled off the half marathon relay carrying a huge Stars & Stripes flag.

During Eddie’s 7.2-mile leg Sunday, a man in his 30s asked if he could carry the flag.

“I said, ‘Yes, of course,’” said Eddie. “He looked like a very proud man.”

During another stretch, a cheerleader ran side by side with Eddie for about 100 yards.

“We just want to show our true colors,” said Eddie. “Everyone recognizes how good this country is.”