News: Okinawa Marines run island perimeter for birthday
Story by Capt. Caleb Eames
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa - Marines on Okinawa celebrated the Corps’ 238th birthday by running a relay Nov. 10-11 around the perimeter of the island.
Two teams of ten Marines competed against each other in a friendly rivalry of esprit-de-corps and endurance encompassing the entire distance of the Okinawa coastline.
The race distance measured a total of 238 miles, matching the traditional number of years the Marine Corps has been in existence, and each competitor ran a total of 24 miles in segments.
“This run was organized as a way to honor the birthday of our Corps and to remember the incredible sacrifices of those Marines who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom,” said Maj. John R. Boutin, the operations officer with 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “Additionally, most of us running are veterans, so it was a great way to celebrate Veterans Day.”
One team was composed of Marines assigned to various units in III MEF, and the second team was comprised of Marines with the 3rd Marine Division, III MEF.
Next year, organizers expect more teams to join the event.
“This long-distance relay run, and the daily business of our Corps, both require our continuous, intense teamwork to be successful,” said Boutin. “Very few individuals could ever run 238 miles in less than two days by themselves, so we had to do it as a team.”
Each runner covered approximately 24 miles over the course of a day and a half to complete the race. The course took runners along beautiful stretches of coastline, through many hills and valleys, and past some of Okinawa’s most historic locations.
“Running by locations such as the (Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Park) in the south was very meaningful,” said Lt. Col. Rufino Gomez, a communications officer with G-6, communications, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “Running this race on our birthday, in this historic location, made us remember the sacrifices of the Marines who came before us. Running up these hills in PT gear pales in comparison to the challenges that Marines must have faced in combat 68 years ago here.”
The run started on the Marine Corps birthday in Okinawa and ended as Marines were celebrating the birthday in the U.S., on the other side of the international date line.
“Some of us have been involved in Hawaii’s Oahu perimeter run in the past, and we wanted to replicate that experience in Okinawa, with an added bonus of it happening on the day most special to all Marines,” said Lt. Col. Eric Dill, a logistics planner with G-4, logistics, III MEF.
While running the 238-mile race, many of the Marines were communicating with their commands to assist with the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission following Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Republic of the Philippines Nov. 7.
Runners were able to complete the race while simultaneously helping support the rapid deployment of forces for the relief efforts.
“The camaraderie that is built by challenging events – the esprit-de-corps, the shared pain and experiences – these all allow us to reflect on our history,” said Gomez. “This is what Marines joined the Corps for. The Marines who participated will remember this for years to come. This is what makes the Marine Corps special.”
The III MEF team completed the run in 34 hours and 26 minutes and the 3rd Marine Division team completed the run in 36 hours and 35 minutes.
“As Marines of the past have done, and as Marines of the future will do, we endure and overcome our challenges, but we face them with a little Marine humor too,” Gomez said. “The answer to every question about how much further to go? Just another mile or so.”