News: Hawaii Marines run among the masses at Honolulu Marathon
Story by Lance Cpl. Jacob Barber
HONOLULU - It’s common to hear the footsteps of a platoon of Marines running in unison at sunrise every morning. Their strides thud the pavement like a heartbeat, and in every step, Marines push themselves to go further and faster. Drenched in sweat, this is how many devil dogs start their day, creating their own rhythm while they work to exceed where they left off the day before. Many have heard the familiar cadence, “One mile, no sweat. Two miles, getting better. Three miles, PFT, good for you, good for me.” What about 26.2 miles?
More than 50 Marines from Marine Corps Base Hawaii accepted the challenge at Ala Moana Boulevard in Honolulu, Dec. 9, as they ran alongside more than 25,000 competitors during the 2012 Honolulu Marathon.
The annual marathon, the second largest in the United States, is known for its substantial participants. Hawaii-based Marines were able to test their running abilities while competing among the best runners in the world, including Olympic bronze medalist, Wilson Kipsang.
“The start of the race was madness,” said 1st Sgt. Jose Molina, a second year participant in the marathon. “It was a really diverse crowd from many different countries. It reminded me of a rock concert. A lot of photo snapping, screaming and cheering in all types of languages. It was exciting and seemed pretty chaotic at times because of all the participants and spectators.”
Cpl. Gerald Swanson, a first time participant in the marathon, said it took him several minutes just to make his way through the crowd and up to the starting line. Though he was nervous at first due to the chaotic atmosphere, he said the race was well worth the hype and the most physically challenging event he has faced in his life. He said it made the PFT feel like “a walk in the park.”
“I hadn’t run a marathon before so I was pretty excited about this one,” Swanson said. “I knew I was competing against a lot of people and some big names, but I’m a Marine, so I took on the challenge. I think this marathon would be great for Marines who want to challenge themselves beyond their everyday boundaries of simply getting up and going to the gym.”
The lengthy, winding, course began on Ala Moana Boulevard and took runners to many areas surrounding Honolulu. Runners were able to see historic and spectacular sites on the course, passing Iolani Palace, running down the Waikiki strip and alongside Diamond Head, gaining a perfect view of the ocean.
Swanson said running down Diamond Head motivated him to finish and gave him a second wind when running the last five miles. Swanson finished 1,500th out of nearly 25,000 competitors, running the 26.2- mile course in just over four hours.
“I have a great sense of accomplishment right now and really feel good about myself,” Swanson said, reflecting on the long, grueling race. “I’m definitely going to come out again next year.”
Molina said the race is perfect for Marines and encouraged more to challenge themselves with the race.
“I really wish the race would get more exposure around Marine installations because it’s a motivating way to get Marines up out of the barracks and engaged in great off-duty activities,” Molina said. “We had a lot of Marines who ran for the first time, including my clerk (Swanson), and they all did a great job. I was pretty impressed with their times, but more importantly, the physical and mental commitment they gave to this race. A lot of them were able to accomplish something they’ve never accomplished before.”
As contestants crossed the finish line, the toll of the course hit many of them, some barely able to stand.
“The feeling is pure exhaustion,” Molina said. “While running, you don’t feel it because you’re getting waves, cheers, and car honks from people, but once you cross that finish line, everything hurts.“
Swanson said though he had swollen ankles, hips, and knees, the race was well worth it, leaving him to challenge more Marines to participate next year.