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Friday, May 20, 2005 | Towering at just a hair over 5 feet 9 inches and tipping the scales at 260 pounds, “Ranger” Wilson, formally known as Odell Wilson, is considered a Clydesdale in running circles. This former U.S. Army Ranger calls cadence while running in order to take his mind off the pounding of each step. It’s a running technique he learned in jump school in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Running a marathon in six hours may not seem like much of an accomplishment, yet you need to take into account that in 2004 he ran 11 marathons in 10 months while carrying a giant POW/MIA flag. One “ultra-marathon” of 120 miles and other shorter races, contributed to the grueling average time of six hours per 26-mile marathon race.

But Ranger Wilson’s goal isn’t speed, it’s exposure time. He says that he “runs with the flag in order to bring community awareness to the plight of POW/MIAs as well as to show support for those gallant men and women who place themselves in harm’s way each day so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have as American citizens.”

Ranger Wilson is a two-year cancer survivor who ran 11 marathons including the ultra- marathon in 2004, and he started just one month post-surgery while he was still undergoing intensive radiation therapy for a grapefruit-size tumor in his left thigh. He will be running the Suzuki Rock and Roll Marathon on June 5 in honor of POW/MIAs as well as those who have lost their lives in the Middle East.

In addition to running, Ranger Wilson is a volunteer for several organizations including the Veterans Administration Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Physical Therapy Unit, the Veterans Museum, the Torrey Pines Gliderport, Casa Del Ray Moro African Museum, the Bread of Life and the 82nd Airborne Honor Guard. As a member of the La Jolla Society of Friends (Quakers), he gives credit to God who “holds him in the light” for his ability to run as well as a host of friends throughout San Diego County who have supported his mission.

San Diego’s Mayor Dick Murphy told Ranger Wilson in a recent letter “It makes me tired just thinking about the running you do!”

Debbie Kinsinger is a fellow Quaker, marathon runner and friend of Odell.

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