News: Historic Half success rests in Marine hands
Story by Sgt. Christopher Zahn
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - The fifth anniversary of the Marine Corps Historic Half marathon showcased nearly 6,000 runners crossing the finish line after racing through 13.1 miles of scenic Fredericksburg.
It also heavily featured hundreds of Marines from Marine Corps Base Quantico who handled everything from medical needs, to hydration, to making sure runners didn’t get lost. They were behind the scenes at the Command Operations Center, coordinating efforts throughout the city and at the finish line, hanging a finisher’s medal around the neck of every person who crossed the line.
“It’s the Marine Corps Historic Half, because it has our name tattooed on it, we ought to support it,” said Master Sgt. Paul Spaulding, the operations chief for Headquarters and Service Battalion, which sent more than 300 Marines to support. “The Marines were pretty excited about it; they understand the motivation level they bring helps the runners.”
The most visible Marines were those who manned the water points throughout the city, passing out water and mixed energy drinks to thirsty competitors.
“The runners made it enjoyable,” said Cpl. Courtney Manker, an administrative clerk with Headquarters and Service Battalion. “They thank you for taking time for volunteering and for your service even as they're taking the water from your hand. They made the morning so worth it.”
The feedback from people running by made for an incredible experience.
“We had retired Marines carrying American flags asking us for "Oorahs" as they ran by, some even stopping to shake all of our hands,” Manker continued. “They seemed more grateful that we were working the water points then focused on themselves actually running the marathon. It was very motivating.”
The day got off to an early start for those working as they mustered aboard Quantico at 2:30 a.m. to make the trip south to the race.
“Seeing it from start to finish was satisfying,” Spaulding said. “Putting themselves out there at 4 a.m. and then it closing down around 11:30 a.m. seeing almost 6,000 runners go through and it was because of [the Marines] standing out there supporting them, that they were able to complete the course.”