By Maj. Ben "Rucksack" Louie, 109th Airlift Wing Bioenvironmental Engineer
/ Published November 15, 2013
SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Pain, stiffness, long hours, but most of all perseverance were common themes for those 109th Airlift Wing members who trained to run a marathon. Col. John Russo, Maj. Ryan Walsh,1st Lt.Tierra Oliver and Master Sergeant Nicole Della Rocco and I traveled down to Arlington, Va. to participate in the 38th Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 27, 2013.
Reasons for running a marathon are as varied and numerous as the number of runners (more than 30,000). Many run the race as a personal goal (sense of achievement), some ran for the physical challenge, others to start and maintain to fitness level. Some ran as a team to raise money in support of causes such as the Wounded Warrior Project or the Folds of Honor Foundation. Still other teams ran together to support their fellow teammate runners. I ran it to set a physical goal for my kids to someday achieve and hopefully surpass. Further, along with a proper diet and certain lifestyle adjustments, I hoped to reduce my blood pressure, lower my resting heart rate, and control/lower my overall blood cholesterol and triglyceride level.
With a single blast from a Marine howitzer, all +30,000 started their 26.2 mile odyssey that wound through Virginia and the District of Columbia. The runners were greeted all throughout the course by supportive family members, well wishers, numerous musical bands, including two bagpiper bands, and scores of American flag holders, all who urged on, cajoled, and generally screamed in support of the runners. Some of the more humorous signs along the course read "Running is cheaper than plastic surgery," "You run better than Congress," "Staying up all night to make signs is tough too," "Don't worry, the Kenyans have already won". The marathon ends with an uphill segment to finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial.
Local and federal law enforcement, to include marine and air units, provided a wall of security second to none. The Marines themselves provided outstanding support as they manned points throughout the course handing out hydration fluids or energy supplements or just urging the runners on. They showcased their exceptional organizational capabilities and truly lived their motto SEMPER FIDELIS.
It is appropriately called "The People's Marathon" because runners come from all 52 states and territories of the United States and from 50 countries. I saw a runner dressed like a witch (she ran with a broom), a runner dressed like a ballerina, and another dressed as Wonder Woman. Then there was a team of three kids. One dressed like a box of Wheaties, another dressed like a banana, and the third like a carton box of milk. One runner, who dressed in a Washington Redskin football jersey, juggled three footballs for over 20 miles. Several runners flew the American flag on a flag staff they carried. Then there were the hundreds, if not more, dressed in wear emblazoned with the charitable organizations they support or with photos remembering the fallen stretching as far back as World War II.
If I can complete a marathon (and I did), I am fairly certain anyone can achieve it. Make today be the first day of your new more healthy life and life style. There are all kinds of books and guides written to train/run marathons, but it all starts with you.
To my fellow Marine Corps Marathoners, congratulations on a phenomenal accomplishment. You should be proud of it, and the men and women of the 109th salute you. To the men and women of 109th who dream of completing a marathon, don't just dream it but make it a reality.