Nathanael Dillard was easy to spot at the 40th American Association for Cancer Research Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. He was the gentleman proudly carrying a 2½-foot by 4-foot American flag.
“I’ve always loved my country,” said Dillard, 39, a retired U.S. Navy chief. “I’m a Christian man, a man of faith. My mother is my inspiration. She’s a cancer survivor.”
The guy’s also a dedicated runner. Dillard and his running best friend Tammy Dotson ran the Air Force Half Marathon the day before in Dayton, Ohio, hopped in a rental car and booked it to Philly.
Dotson was running her 10th Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series event of the year, proudly displaying her gold record status on her singlet. By the end of the year her 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll status will reach 15 races, elevating her to the series’ Hall of Fame.
Dotson took up running in 2006 after having her heart broken in a relationship.
“I needed something to occupy my time,” said Dotson, an Air Force lieutenant colonel. “Now, running’s a healthy addiction.”
Dillard, meanwhile, earned the admiration of runners along the 13.1-mile route that started and finished near the footsteps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, the famous Rocky statue serving as a tourist photo-op.
After Dillard finished in 2 hours, 38 minutes, he was stopped by Gerald Reznick.
“Thank you. Thank you for your service,” said Reznick. “What he did, carrying that flag, it’s awesome.”