By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro
YOKOSUKA, Japan - Engineering department sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) participated in the 2014 Tokyo Marathon, Feb. 23.
More than 36,000 runners, 10,000 volunteers and a cheering crowd of 1.5 million lined the streets of Japan’s most populace city to take part in the 26.2 mile endurance test.
“The whole experience was very overwhelming,” said Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate Damian Kelly, leading chief petty officer of George Washington’s Engineering Department. “Running a marathon is physically and mentally grueling, but having my team of sailors there running it with me really helped. I think just knowing that we were all there helped push us through to the finish line.”
To prepare for the event, the five-man team instituted a rigorous training program that not only helped them get into better running shape, it also enhanced their physical readiness to prepare for the upcoming spring physical readiness test as members of the U.S. Navy.
“We started to train about two months before the marathon,” said Kelly. “It involved seven-mile runs during the week and 12-mile runs on weekends. Even with all the training, I don’t think anything can fully prepare someone for the complete exhaustion of running a marathon.”
For one sailor, running a marathon was uncharted territory.
“I had never run a marathon before so the most difficult part of the race for me was just trying to stay motivated,” said Hull Technician 1st Class Brandon Link, from Chesapeake, Va. “A few of us ran together for a good chunk of the race and no one wanted to be the guy that slows down the group. That in itself was motivation.”
Link and Kelly finished the marathon in 5 hours, 30 minutes and 5 hours, one minute, respectively.
“It’s been my dream since I was a kid to run in a marathon,” said Kelly. “It was tough to finish, but having my family cheer me on at different parts throughout the race definitely kept me going.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.