MOATSVILLE, W.Va. (WBOY) — For some people, running just one mile is a lot. If that sounds tiring, now imagine running 48 marathons in 48 days.
That’s what retired Rochester, New York, Police Sgt. Brett Sobieraski is doing to honor a fallen comrade, coworker and brother in law enforcement.
Rochester Police Officer Anthony “Maz” Mazurkiewicz was killed in the line of duty in July 2022, less than one year before his planned retirement to spend more time with his family. Mazurkiewicz left behind his wife, children, grandchildren and siblings.
“He loved spending time with his grandkids and in a blink of an eye, that was all stolen,” Sobieraski said.
Sobieraski described Mazurkiewicz as someone with a giant personality, who always helped younger officers, “wanted to be out in the chaos” catching crime suspects and “always told you what he thought” no matter if it was another officer or the police chief.
The 56-year-old, who has raised money for charities through other rigorous tests of endurance, began looking for a herculean task to raise money for Mazurkiewicz’s family while bringing attention to his sacrifice.
“Initially, my thought was I’m going to run for two days on the track and people can join me, but then I thought that’s not big enough for Tony, in the way he lived and the way he died,” Sobieraski said.
Instead, he found a way to incorporate another task to fit Mazurkiewicz’s larger-than-life personality. He decided to run marathons through eight states—“8 States for Maz.” Eight was Mazurkiewicz’s unit designator number with the Rochester Police Department.
“I think this really exemplifies Tony and the person that he was,” Sobieraski said.
Sobieraski started his trek on April 23 in Palatka, Florida and he expects to finish on June 11 in Rochester, New York. So far, the campaign has raised around $70,000, with a goal of raising $100,000. To donate, click here.
For the last few miles of his journey, Mazurkiewicz’s family and loved ones will be in attendance as Sobieraski will be joined by hundreds of people to cross the finish line at the Fallen Officer Memorial.
“The closer that I get to Rochester, the more people are signing up to run, the more donations come in, so I think we’re going to reach our $100,000 mark,” Sobieraski said.
So far, he has run through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia and is in the process of running through West Virginia. Maz’s wife Lynn gave Sobieraski a heart-shaped stone to leave behind in every state where she thinks Anthony would like to be.
This past week, the country roads have taken him through parts of north central West Virginia, including Morgantown, Elkins, as well as Preston and Barbour counties.
“Every state that I tick off is just, in my mind, a huge accomplishment so I am one state closer to being home,” Sobieraski said. “Now, I translate that to marathons that every marathon; I do that, I’m just closer to the 48th marathon.”
On Friday, he will be running his 34th marathon. On Saturday, Sobieraski will leave the Mountain State and head into Pennsylvania. Surprisingly, he said the mountains and hills he has run through in West Virginia weren’t as difficult to run on as compared to some other states.
Nonetheless, this hasn’t been an easy task for the formerly 16-year smoker, who deems himself a “horrible athlete at heart.”
“This would be a lot easier if I did it while I was 40, and to be honest, I spend three to four hours a day doing rehab and prehab on all my joints, and this has never been easy. There is never one day that I say ‘this was an easy day,'” Sobieraski said. “Every day is a challenge, every night I go to bed, there’s always this little question mark in my brain that ‘will my calf feel better tomorrow? will knees feel better tomorrow?’ and every day I get up… they do.”
Sobieraski has already worn out three pairs of shoes through this journey.
Adding a degree of difficulty and a tribute to the run, he runs the last stretch of it with two flags—one that carries Maz’s unit designator number and the U.S. flag. After he finishes, he swings a mace with Maz’s name and unit number on it.
No matter how tough the quest is, Mazurkiewicz only continues to get daily motivation from his former colleague. “I think of Tony the entire time when I am out there,” Sobieraski said. With every mile, Mazurkiewicz’s memory lives on.
“My hopes is that his family will always know that we will never forget Tony’s sacrifice,” Sobieraski said. “That we will always support them until the day that we’re not here and that is the ultimate thing is to let that family know that he will never ever be forgotten.”