Marine Corps Marathon Stretches Beyond US Soil
(November 4, 2009)
Sgt. Ryan Carle, intelligence chief with Marine
Fighter Attack Squadron 112, stretches in preparation for the 4th
Annual Marine Corps Marathon (Forward), aboard Al Asad Air Base,
Iraq, Oct. 25, 2009.
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (10/29/200)
Men and women looking down an empty
stretch of road, dimly lit by street lamps and emergency vehicle lights,
anticipated their upcoming challenge. Not more than a few hundred meters of
pavement stretched in front of them, but rounding the turn at the end of this
road began a 26.2-mile test of willpower.
Service members from all over Iraq came to Al Asad Air Base to participate in
the 4th Annual Marine Corps Marathon (Forward) Oct. 25, 2009, and every
participant brought their own personal ambitions to the course. Some came to
test their endurance, others to participate in their first marathon and a few
even waved their unit's colors on the run to remember fallen comrades.
“The training was pretty tough, and the goal for my first marathon is to defeat
the road ... No time; just in it to complete it,” explained Staff Sgt. Brian
O'Rourke, system communications watch chief with 8th Communication Battalion.
“My brother runs marathons, and he is the driving force behind this. I want to
at least experience something that he has so we can relate on some things.”
Whatever reasoning brought them to the event, they
took their inspirations with them as they dashed through the
starting line when the shot rang out.
Out of the 309 participants, more than 200 ran their first Marine Corps Marathon
during the event.
Other runners had past experience running marathons and were willing to give it
another try, even if the last time they ran one was more than 18 years ago.
Col. Catherine Chase, the Multi National Force - West assistant chief of staff
for administration said, “The last one that I ran was in 1981. I'm hoping I can
do well and finish the marathon. It's kind of cool that there's that much time
in between [my races] and it's kind of scary too.”
The racers' feet pattered down the street and up a hill, bringing them to a
desolate stretch of road where every so often a water or medical station came
into view. The remote scenery of this route, occasionally disrupted by a passing
helicopter, bore the heaviest burden for some participants.
“It takes a lot of mental discipline,” said Sgt. Ryan Carle, intelligence chief
with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112. “On the way back, there was a long
stretch that looked flat and unending and there wasn't a soul in sight, so it
took a lot to keep on putting one foot in front of the other.”
Throughout the race, some smiles changed to expressions of exhaustion and their
manners radiated unfaltering determination. At 3 hours, 5 minutes, 49 seconds,
Army 1st Lt. Joseph Woodley, shop officer with 659th Maintenance Company,
barreled across the finish line in first place, achieving victory in his first
Marine Corps Marathon.
"I didn't plan to win it,” said Woodley, who has competed in three previous
marathons stateside. “I usually finish in the top 10 percent of my races.”
This marathon quite possibly marks the last Marine Corps Marathon (Fwd) held in
Iraq. The four races that have taken place have brought men and women across the
nation together and given them goals to work toward during deployments. The
runners will always remember what brought them to the event and that whether
they completed their goals or not ... they ran.
Article and photo by USMC Cpl. Joshua Murray
Multi National Force - West
Marine Corps News
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