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In memory of Matt

Sgt. Matthew McClintock became an avid runner while training to become a Green Beret. (Courtesy of Kevin Williams)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Although COVID-19 altered the entire slate of CORE Crew races in 2020, the grass roots organization continued with its mission to use cycling and running events in the area to raise money for local charitable organizations.

Its final event – like so many others in 2020 – was a virtual running of the popular Tatonka 5 & 10 K usually held on trails surrounding the Glorieta Camps near Pecos.

The event, named for the call sign of Sgt. Matthew McClintock, raised nearly $4,000 for the Green Beret Foundation.

“The virtual race did really well,” said Jan Bear, one of the CORE Crew founders. “And it allowed some of Matthew’s Green Beret teammates and people who knew him from around the United States to participate, and a lot of them donated money, too. We made almost the same amount as previous ones.”

McClintock, son-in-law of one of the CORE Crew founders, was killed in action in January 2016. A special forces engineer sergeant, McClintock was serving with the 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group near the city of Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

An evac helicopter needed a new landing zone to pull out an injured teammate and McClintock braved incoming fire to find one, but was killed in the process.

For his heroism, he earned the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor.

Although not really an athlete growing up, McClintock had developed into a strong runner because fitness was necessary in an armed forces member, said his half brother, Kevin Williams.

So he would have appreciated the Tatonka run.

“It’s up and down on a dirt trail,” Bear said of the run. “I wouldn’t say it is super challenging, but it’s certainly challenging to some degree.”

Which makes it a great event, said Williams, who has run in it every year.

“He ran all the time, especially when he was in the Green Berets,” he said. “Growing up, he didn’t do any high school sports. He was more into Legos, engineering type of stuff. He originally wanted to do something in the medical field, but he decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and go into the military. Once he got in the military and wanted to be a Green Beret, he took up running pretty big time.”

When returning to New Mexico between his overseas duty, the brothers would take to the hills.

“Whenever he would come back into town, we would hike or work out in a gym I used to have,” Williams said. “And he just got more and more fit and athletic.”

Although the 2020 Tatonka 5 & 10K races were virtual, the race had in years past drawn many runners to the Glorieta Camps area for the trail runs. (Courtesy of CORE Crew)

The first year of the race, the money raised was used to help McClintock’s widow and young son, and thereafter it has gone to the Green Beret Foundation.

Williams said he’s happy and proud that his brother and his actions are recognized in such a manner.

“It means a lot because we get to remember Matt,” he said. “We remember him every day because he’s family and we grew up with him, but we get to share him with everyone else. Share him with people already close to us and share him with new people every year. We get to talk about him and I think that’s the best way to remember him. People have been very receptive of our cause and supportive of why we do it do. It helps creates community.”

Given COVID’s continuing presence, the CORE Crew has scheduled this year’s events, but pushed everything back.

The La Tierra Torture mountain bike race on La Tierra Trails has been scheduled for Aug 28. The 6 hours in the Basin for Commonweal Endurance mountain bike race on the Galisteo Trails in Galisteo is set for Oct. 2 and the Tatonka 5 & 10K Runs is set for Oct 23.

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