Navy veteran wounded in Iraq runs Fargo Marathon with American flag attached to his belt

Randy Woodward from Nashville, Tenn., proudly carries the flag on Saturday, May 18, 2019, before the start of the Sanford Fargo Marathon in the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Randy Woodward was in the middle of a 36-vehicle convoy in his second tour of duty in the Iraq War in 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded. The Navy Seabee was told in a Virginia hospital he would never run again, something he had done since high school in Peculiar, Mo.

Woodward, 53, has six herniated discs, meniscus tears in both knees, shoulder damage and a 14-year headache that hasn't gone away since the bomb exploded.

On Saturday, Woodward looked outside the Fargodome gate and laughed at the rain and wind that awaited him for the full marathon of Saturday's Sanford Fargo Marathon.

"It's going to be terrible," said Woodward, who is from Nashville, Tenn. "I'm going to love it."

Saturday was the 17th state Woodward has run a full marathon with his American flag attached to his belt.


"I decided, after a few years of sitting around and being miserable and hurting, let's go run," Woodward said.

Woodward tried a marathon. That turned into trying one or two marathons every year. That turned into 12 marathons in six straight weekends.

That has turned into trying to do a full marathon with his American flag, which stands 8-by-5 feet, in all 50 states. For Woodward, running is therapeutic.

"I have a 24-7 headache, I get migraines three or four times a week pretty bad," Woodward said. "When it gets bad, I just go run. It gives me a high. It's hard not to run. I just gotta run."

Woodward was working at a little hot rod shop just outside of Kansas City, Mo., at 34 years old. He had thought about joining the Army for years, but never really followed through. The car of a Navy recruiter broke down on his way to the U.S. Naval Reserve Center in Kansas City.

Woodward fixed his car, talked to him and was signed up for the Navy two weeks later.

"It gave me a lot of opportunity to travel around the world.," Woodward said. "I would still be doing it if it weren't for the roadside bomb."

Woodward raised the American flag at the starting line, as the crowd faced him during the national anthem Saturday. He ran the full marathon and headed to Green Bay to run another full marathon with the flag tomorrow.


"People love it," Woodward said. "I hear a lot of people say it's an inspiration."

Randy Woodward from Nashville, Tenn., carries the flag on Saturday, May 18, 2019, at the finish of the Sanford Fargo Marathon in the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum

Murphy has covered sports in Chicago, Minnesota and North Dakota since 2009, working for The Forum since 2012. Contact: or 701-241-5548
What To Read Next
Get Local