Organizers are gearing up for a very special race this weekend to honor a fallen soldier.
This year, thanks to another soldier also wounded in battle, the race will come full circle and have a lot of meaning this year.
Two men were bonded as partners in the race and in their service to our country.
They finished the race side by side in its first year. Now, one will have to finish it himself in honor of his friend.
"He was a physical beast, even for a Ranger," Dominic Anneccini said of his friend Jason Dahlke. "He could do anything."
In 2009, Dahlke and Anneccini won the first ever Energy Oasis Adventure Challenge. It was a tough course, with running, biking, kayaking and navigating.
Dahlke kept Anneccini motivated through the finish line.
"I was in shape, but not like Jason was," said Anneccini. "Not many people were."
Months later, Annneccini found out his friend was killed in Afghanistan while deployed with the First Ranger Battalion.
"Disbelief," said Anneccini. "If it could happen to Jason, it could happen to anyone."
The race was later named after Dahlke, but Anneccini wasn't able to participate for years because he was deployed. Then, another tragedy happened when Anneccini was wounded on duty, shot at close range in Afghanistan.
"We were just clearing a building, and last thing I remember is pulling security on a door," he recalled.
Doctors had to remove Anneccini's entire forehead to save his life. After months and years of intensive therapy, he can run again.
"I can run, but it's not quite as fast as I used to be," he said. "I was never a fast runner. Jason pretty much dragged me across the course."
This time, he'll run in honor of Dahlke.
"I feel proud to go out there and run it again for him," he said.
The Sua Sponte Foundation is hosting the Dahlke Adventure Race on Saturday at Fort McAllister State Park in Richmond Hill. Proceeds from the race go toward the foundation, which helps the Rangers and families of the First Ranger Battalion in Savannah.
Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.