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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Albany runners finish Marine Corps Marathon strong

By 1st Lt. Caleb D. Eames | | November 5, 2009

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Twenty three individuals from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Marine Corps Logistics Command and Maintenance Center Albany traveled to Washington, D.C., to run the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 25 as part of the Albany Marine Corps Marathon Team. The Marine Corps Marathon, known as the People’s Marathon, is held every year in the nation’s capital.  It brings tens of thousands of runners together for one of the most popular races in the world.  It is the nations’ fifth-largest marathon and the seventh largest in the world.  The 30,000-plus spots available this year sold out in a little more than two weeks.

“Coming up here to D.C., this was my first marathon.  And as far as I know, I am the first one in my family to run a marathon,” said Sgt. Jair Guevara, motor transport mechanic, Marine Maintenance Assist Team, Maintenance Management Center, LOGCOM.  “I wasn’t sure how I would do, and knew it would be hard, but I had the mentality that I was going to finish this one and set the standard for next time.”

Race morning greeted competitors with cool, clear weather, perfect conditions for the 26.2-mile journey they were about to embark on.

Runners looked skyward as twin V-22 Osprey tilt-roter aircraft flew over the crowd.  The starting gun fired, and thousands of runners surged across the starting line and into the first miles of the course.

“This marathon had amazing views,” said Staff Sgt. Miguel Gutierrez, supply Staff Non-Commissioned Officer, Fleet Support Division, Distribution Management Center, LOGCOM. “I had never seen D.C. before and running through the monuments and Georgetown was great.”

The race took runners along the Potomac River, and into the streets of Georgetown.  Then the race followed the river again, along the Tidal Basin across from the Jefferson Memorial, and down into Hains Point to the half-way point (13.1 miles).

“At Hains Point, I was really in my zone, and concentrating on the pace, telling myself not to speed up,” said Sgt. Ryan Nicks, armorer, MMAT, running his first marathon.  “I felt physically great, and even wanted to run faster.” 

“After 13 miles, I just kept taking it one mile at a time,” said Becky Shiver, resource and referral manager, Marine Corps Family Team Building, Marine Corps Community Services, and also a first-time marathoner.

From Haynes Point, the race turned along the National Mall, passing the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian museums, and in front of the Capitol.  Returning along the other side of the Mall, it crossed the Potomac again and then wound through Crystal City before heading toward the finish line.  The final three miles took runners past the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery, and then the end was in sight.

“By the end I couldn’t believe I was finishing this,” said Shiver.  “This was my first marathon, and I was almost done.  My legs were on strike, but I knew I was almost there.  The last two miles were the longest miles I ever ran.”

In the last half-mile, runners negotiated a steep hill leading up to the finish line at the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial.  The eternal symbol of the Marine Corps was a fitting reminder at the end of the race of the challenges that Marines overcame in years past to keep our nation safe.

Capt. Richard Jennings, aide-de-camp, LOGCOM, a member of the Marine Corps running team, was the first of the Albany runners to cross the finish line.  He completed the race in 2:45:29, and was 54th overall of the 20,936 finishers.

1st Sgt. Jeffrey Kirby, formerly first sergeant, Detachment 2, 4th Supply Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, and the third of the Albany runners to cross the finish line, ran the race while on his last few days of active duty, just before his retirement.

Two other Marines who are finishing their careers ran the marathon as their final “oohrah,” Master Gunnery Sgt. Raul Catig, formerly the staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge, MMAT, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joe Castillo, financial management resource officer, Program and Resources Division, LOGCOM.

“It was a great opportunity after 26 years, it is a good way to finish,” said Castillo.  “As I was coming down the last miles, I wanted to walk, but I saw a lot people wearing shirts in memory of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I saw blind and amputee veterans running.  I realized I could have it a lot worse, and that gave me the strength to finish strong.  This might be my last Marine Corps marathon and what a way to finish a career.”

First-time marathoner Capt. Juan Reyna, future plans officer, Logistics Operations Center, LOGCOM, ran after recovering from an injury that prevented him from running last year.

“It was simply motivating,” Reyna said.  “All the people cheering, monuments and history surrounding you, it makes you not want to stop.  As a Marine, finishing at the Iwo Jima memorial was simply awesome.”

Martin Norman, material expediter, Production Management, Maintenance Center Albany, also ran his first 26.2-mile distance at the Marine Corps Marathon.

“Pain is weakness leaving the body,” said Norman.  “I was hurt, but I kept on pushing. This symbolized my commitment to the Marines.  It also set the example for my kids, for them to see me commit to something big and then actually go out and do it.  It was amazing to have the opportunity to run my first marathon and represent the Marine Corps.  To be presented a finisher’s medal by a Marine at the Iwo Jima Memorial, and be a part of the Marine Corps like this, was just awesome.”

Families and friends waited for the Albany runners at the finish line.

“It was great to see my family at the finish line,” said Gutierrez.  “I was glad the race was over and they were happy to see I was OK.  And taking a picture in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial just gave me chills,” said Gutierrez.  “What a great way to finish.  When they raised the flag on Suribachi, America knew we could win the war.  The same was true for us crossing the finish line.  We knew we had made it.”

“Going up the last hill, it was the last point-two miles, and I gave it my all, said Guevara.  “I sprinted, passed 10 people, saw the finish line and thousands of people cheering me on.”

“Whatever I had to do, I wasn’t going to walk up the hill to Iwo Jima,” said Sgt. Ryan Nicks, armorer, MMAT.  “That was the last stretch; it was less than a mile to the end.”

“This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but the most gratifying,” Shiver said.  “It took a lot of perseverance and stubbornness, all at one time.  I was relieved when I saw the last hill at the end.  I had to get up it with all I had left, and then I finished.  It was awesome finishing with all the Marines along either side all shouting support, what a great feeling.”

At the end of the day, the runners realized that what was important was not about individual times, but rather the fact that each gave their very best.  Every runner with the Marines in Albany finished the race, completing their personal 26.2-mile journey of endurance with honor, courage, and commitment, and representing their commands and their Corps to the best of their abilities.


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