05/23/10 — After 82 miles ... a hug, for Beth

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After 82 miles ... a hug, for Beth

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 23, 2010 1:50 AM

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Col. Tim Lamb is surrounded by his daughters, from left, Chloee Lamb, Jessy Martinez and Meghan Fields, after completing his 82-mile run in honor of his wife, and their mother, Beth.

Early Friday afternoon, Meghan Fields looked back at a road sign that read "Wayne Memorial Drive."

"He's gonna make it now on pure adrenaline," she said, peering down Service Road 1591. "As soon as he sees that sign, he'll know he's almost there."

Moments later, a Goldsboro police car slowed toward where the girl had been standing -- her father, Col. Tim Lamb, maintaining a steady pace not far behind.

But unlike the night before, when he started an 82-mile run from Duke Hospital to Wayne Community College in honor of his late wife, Beth's, battle with breast cancer, Lamb was not alone.

Several of his comrades from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base were right there with him -- matching him step for step.

"He would do it for us," said Master Sgt. Carrie Baker, one of the half-dozen members of the SJ Runners who met up with Lamb when day broke hours earlier. "Any one of us."

By 1:40, the group had passed Wayne Memorial Hospital.

And by the time they reached the site of the 2010 Relay for Life, an event family members agreed Beth would not have missed were she still alive, all three of Lamb's daughters, Meghan, Chloee and Jessy, were by their father's side.

But they had no idea that as they made their way from the college entrance to the Relay track, an announcement was being made over the loudspeakers scattered across the makeshift campgrounds.

"Let's all get together and give this man a Wayne County welcome," the voice said. "This man's been running since last night for his wife."

So by the time the Lamb family reached the track, a crowd had lined it -- cheering, applauding, shedding tears.

"You did it," one woman said, her voice trembling. "You made it."

But their journey didn't end there.

They still had to find the luminarias bearing Beth's name -- a pink heart that signified, much like the shirts each wore, their beloved's struggle.

And when they reached it, they came together for long embraces and an emotional prayer.

Meghan wiped tears from her eyes.

"It's amazing," she said a few moments later, choking up. "I always knew he could do it, but being here now, in daylight, sitting under this shade tree? No. I would never have guessed that."

From a lawnchair just beside her, Lamb wore the same expression he had maintained for the previous 20 hours -- across four counties, from the place where Beth underwent numerous surgeries and chemotherapy, past the Eastern North Carolina town where her body finally succumbed to the disease she had been fighting for more than six years.

"I guess God blessed me with a strong body today and yesterday," he said. "I think He just kind of made things work."

Lamb didn't seem surprised.

He must have known Beth's spirit, too, would be with him step for step -- that the struggle of a woman known for coaching softball would be an inspiration to fight through the wear and tear.

"I didn't really have a lot of doubts," Lamb said, more than four hours before the official start of Relay. "I was going to make it one way or another."