New Boston Marathon Restrictions Keeps Soldier Group From Marching

(NECN: Josh Brogadir) - The bombings at last year's Boston Marathon mean tighter restrictions will be in place for the 2014 race, and that means a change in tradition for military members who typically walk the route in honor of their fallen comrades.

However, it's not an end to the Tough Ruckers, who are committed to marching the 26.2 miles even if it's not from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

"We were there as volunteers. I was there as Steve. Bernie was there as Bernie,” said Tough Ruck founder Steve Fiola.

But last Marathon Monday, they were so much more than Bernie and Steve - two friends with a combined 43 years active military - who had finished marching the course in their fatigues and 40 pound rucksacks when the bombs went off.

This year, with new security rules imposed by the Boston Athletic Association prohibiting backpacks and military gear and unregistered marathoners, they will not be on the route pre-dawn as they have in the past, while marathoners are still sleeping off a pasta dinner.

"It's unfortunate, there are safety and security concerns that have come up and that's certainly understandable. But we have to look at it from the aspect of, well what are we doing next. The message is still the same," Fiola said.

"It's unfortunate we're not doing it there, but it doesn't matter where we do it. I'll walk through my living room for 26 miles if I have to, because that's what it matters for. It's for the fallen soldiers," Tough Ruck’s Bernie Madore said.

Steve and Bernie's role is to march for comrades who can't, such as fallen soldiers Alex and Brian, the sons of Carlos Arredondo and stepsons of his wife Melida, the couple who was at the finish line when the bombs went off.

"It's understandable, but I feel like there should be some way that the Tough Ruckers are involved," Melida Arredondo said.

They'll be having a ruck somewhere around greater Boston, a place, Steve says, with historical significance.

It’ll be a 26.2 mile course, and as of now, 700 military personnel from 29 states are expected.

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