Flags to the Finish: Never to win, only to help others

Flags to the Finish at the OLOL Children's Hospital Amazing Half Marathon

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Only a select few will ever know what it’s like to win a race. But for most, it’s not about winning, it’s about taking on the challenge. One group knows that sometimes you need a little help taking those final steps.

“We come out and we help motivate others during races,” said Ryan Mast, one of the many who is part of a group called Flags to the Finish.

Mast is a firefighter. He runs in full gear and of course, a flag. He carries it the entire length of the race and has been doing so for about 10 years now. It’s not the ideal outfit for running, but that’s part of the challenge.

“It helps to raise awareness for lots of different charities and money for a lot of different charities,” he said. “You take what you do every day for a living and you turn it in to something bigger.”

If you’ve run a race in Baton Rouge, you’ve probably seen Mast or one of his fellow Flags to the Finish runners. The group includes various people from different law enforcement agencies and branches of the military.

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“As people hit those walls and don’t think they can finish, we double back and pick them up and help them get through the course,” he said. “It’s very humbling.”

Just like the rest of us, they’re never going to win the race, but they promise they’ll always finish. And they’ll be there to give you a hand if you need a little help from a new friend.

“We will always run with anyone that wants us to and are happy to let anyone carry the Flag of our Country!”

In fact, as the winner of the OLOL Children’s Hospital Amazing Half Marathon was crossing the finish line, Mast was walking with a woman who was just finishing the 5K.

Learn more about the group on Facebook and Instagram @flagstothefinish.

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