Firefighters from two nations took off Thursday on a round-the-clock run from Southern California to New York in remembrance of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Tour of Duty run officially began with a flag ceremony at 8:46 a.m. — the time when the first plane struck New York's twin towers in 2001.
Several New York firefighters were running, including James Dowdell. His father, firefighter Kevin Dowdell, was among more than 400 emergency workers killed while responding to the attack.
Firefighters feel "a special kinship" with firefighters who died, North Las Vegas fire Capt. Cedric Williams said.
"We're trained to save people and potentially risk our lives for others. ... I think each one of us understands those risks," he said. "We probably wouldn't have done anything different than they did."
Firefighters from the U.S. and Australia took up to 40 days off and were spending their own money on the run, Williams said.
Beginning at the Santa Monica Pier, teams running in shifts will head east on a 4,600-mile trek that will take them to Las Vegas, Arizona, Albuquerque, Oklahoma, Houston, New Orleans, Mississippi, Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Pennsylvania before finishing at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11.
Every day at 8:46 a.m., the race will be stopped and the name of 16 victims of 9/11 will be read off, Williams said.
Each 1.5-mile of the race also will be dedicated to a victim. Their names will be placed in a log book that organizers plan to donate to a firefighter museum, Williams said.
More than 30 firefighters were taking part as well as a New York Port Authority police officer and an officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Updates will be posted on the FDNY's Facebook and Twitter sites. Funds raised will be donated to charities.