Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thank you, Marine Corps Marathon

Not only did the Marine Corps Marathon give me the opportunity to train, run, and finish the race of a lifetime and accomplish a major goal, but it gave me the opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to as many of the Marines as possible that I met the day of the race. This event allowed me to feel a part of something much bigger, something so emotional that I won’t soon forget and can never appropriately put into words. I got to see and experience why the Marine Corps Marathon is known as the People’s Marathon.

The day was perfect. The weather was beautiful and the 26.2 mile route was laden with history, monuments, gorgeous scenery, and a challenge to “beat the bridge”. It isn't the race route that I recall. As a matter of fact, I only remember noticing two monuments; the Capitol and the Washington Monument that was under construction. What I do recall are the people.

Bundled up in hats, jackets, and scarves against the chilly morning air, men, women and even children in strollers came out in droves; and never left. Spectators were not at just every mile marker, but at every step of the race. They held handmade signs of encouragement or humor, rang cowbells, cheered, shouted and clapped their support to one and all runners to the finish line. Heck, there were even spectators handing out Halloween candy to the runners for that added sugar boost.
The volunteers were numerous and amazing. These are the people who were up before the sun on race day in the chilly fall morning, setting everything up to make the Marine Corps Marathon enjoyable and memorable. They manned the port-a-potties (a thankless job), manned aid stations, helped hand out water and Gatorade, and were our general cheerleaders for 26.2 miles. They were the police blocking roads, keeping the streets safe, and who clapped along with the rest of the spectators as we passed their security point.

For me, the incredible and emotional part of the biggest challenge and race of my life were the Marines. These men and women not only made us feel secure, but they cheered, applauded, high-fived, shouted boot camp orders, and handed us Gatorade and water as we made our way to the finish line. They were the reason we pushed ourselves and continued to run when our bodies screamed in pain and wanted to give up.
The best part was the opportunity to shake hands with these Marines and thank them for their service. And at the end of the race, when I crossed the finish line a Marine placed the Marine Corps Marathon medal over my head, and then she saluted me. That little act was my undoing. I thanked the Marine and the others standing near her, shook their hands, and walked away with tears streaming down my cheeks and a grin on my face.

I may have accomplished something great that day, something I perceived to be a tough challenge, but it is nothing compared to what these Marines face and live every day and all to keep us safe.

I have never felt more humbled or proud.
Thank you to the US Marines not only for your service, but for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime.

I salute the Marines; thank the Marine Corps Marathon coordinators, volunteers, and all the spectators. You made this race for me and made this the People’s Marathon.


The Old Man October 29, 2013 at 9:41 PM  

I think this is a great piece as it illustrates the emotions that you felt along with the effort that it took you to get there. And yes, it is tough not to get teary eyed when you come face to face to folks you really admire for their spirit and devotion. As you say, OORAH!

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