Stephen Hansmann will carry special flag during Twin Cities Marathon

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Stephen Hansmann will not be your average marathon runner come Oct. 1 when he runs the Twin Cities Marathon, but he will be the most recognizable. Just look for the large Wounded Warrior Project flag he will be carrying every step of the 26.2-mile race.

Hansmann, a senior this upcoming year at Farmington High School, has been collecting donations and signatures on the flag to raise money for Wounded Warrior Project this summer. He said his original goal was to raise $500 and 100 signatures, but that was quickly surpassed. With a month and a half left, his new goal is $1,000. While originally he was simply going to collect the donations and signatures and then donate after the race, he was able to reach out to the Wounded Warrior Project over Facebook and they asked for him to post a link to his GoFundMe page on their Facebook.

The story started last winter when Stephen and his father decided to train and run a half-marathon together.

"I was training for a half-marathon in (this past) April with my dad, so I was training all winter for that," Hansmann said. "So I ran that with my dad, and then I wanted to do a marathon. I was looking into that, and I knew I wouldn't have the motivation to do a full marathon, but I figured if I did something like this and had people donate, then I would have to run it no matter what and would need to keep up with my training. It's kind of motivation for me, and I also want to go into the Army when I graduate, so I know it's a good cause to help wounded veterans and it's something that might affect me someday as well."

While Hansmann said he does not have a formal background in running, whether in sports or as a hobby, he has known he wanted to go into the Army since he was a kid and has been preparing ever since.

"I want to go into the Army and I need to be physically fit for that," he explained. "So I've been running and lifting since I was little. Then my dad and I figured it would be cool to run a half-marathon together, so we just started training for that last January."

Hansmann said that while his training for the Twin Cities Marathon is not very different from what he did for the half-marathon, incorporating the flag has been an interesting element.

"My goal for this is just to be able to finish with the flag," he said. "I've been carrying an American flag for all of my training runs. I had a 15-mile run this morning and it's a 5-foot-by-3-foot flag, so I get a ton of honks and that's kind of cool. I've just been practicing carry that, it makes it a lot harder to run with it, it's not that heavy but it starts to weigh you down after a couple miles and the wind makes it a pain, but I don't think I'd be able to do a full-marathon with the flag if I didn't practice."

If you wish to make a donation in support of Hansmann's endeavor and the Wounded Warrior Project, visit https://www.gofundme.com/wounded-warrior-marathon.