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    What Motivated two Airmen to run the Marine Corps Marathon?

    What Motivated two Airmen to run the Marine Corps Marathon?

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Tamara Dabney | Members of the 103rd Airlift Wing pose for a photo at Bradley Air National Guard Base,...... read more read more

    BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Conn. With the largest marathon races offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to top finishers, distance running can be a lucrative sport for marathoners. However, the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), one of the most popular marathons in the United States, does not offer prize money. So, what motivates thousands of people from all walks of life to compete in the MCM?
    During a routine office meeting in March, the thought of running the 42nd MCM suddenly popped into the mind of Senior Master Sgt. David Frates of the 103rd Airlift Wing. Then, on a whim, he declared to everyone in the room that he would run the MCM in October. At the time, he had yet to ever run a marathon in his life, so the MCM would be a new challenge for him. Although Frates may have had second thoughts about his announcement after the meeting, he knew that he couldn’t take back what he said. He did not want to reverse a decision that he had made in front of his fellow Airmen.
    “I made the challenge during a staff meeting back in March because I’d heard about the marathon,” said Frates. “Everybody was like, ooh that’s really hard. Then, I was just thinking, yeah, this is going to be hard, but I just said it to the whole room, so now I have to do it.”
    Frates essentially made a verbal contract with himself and he refused to break it. He began a months-long training program that included running several shorter races leading up to the MCM. Feeling obligated to follow through with the decision to run the race helped to motivate Frates to train. Nevertheless, when the day of the race finally came, he found that he needed another source of inspiration to get him to the finish line.
    “Some of these guys at the race are missing legs, or they have burns all over their bodies or they are blind, and they still go out and challenge themselves,” Frates said. “There is nothing in my life that I can see that would compare to those challenges. So, knowing that they would be there waiting at the finish line to congratulate me, I thought, “There is no way that I’m not going to finish this. I can’t stop.”
    Tech. Sgt. Michael Stearns of the 103rd Security Forces Squadron, who also completed the 42nd MCM, was also inspired by fellow runners.
    “I’ve seen people out there from all walks of life, from teenagers to people well in their 80s, and a lot of military veterans who are amputees,” said Stearns. “There was a guy who looked like a quadruple amputee on a skateboard. He had a tiny little sneaker on, and he was just trucking along. If they can do it, then obviously, I want to try my best to finish it too. That’s one of the things that helped me cross the finish line. It’s like, look at these people passing me. That was motivating.”
    The final stretch of the MCM is an uphill trek to the finish line, located at the Marine Corps War Memorial. Each year at the culmination of the race, runners share their MCM experiences with the public. When asked why they ran the MCM, also known as “The People’s Marathon,” participants gave several reasons; some people said they do it to honor a loved one in the military, while some want to raise money for charity. Others run the MCM to celebrate a long journey to physical fitness. Both Frates and Stearns agreed that Airmen should consider running the MCM because it could make them better physically and mentally.
    “There is a physical aspect to it, which is part of being an Airman—challenging yourself physically, but there is also a mental aspect of it,” said Frates. “You’ll come to a point where your body has little or nothing left to give you. Despite all of the training you’ve done, it’s not going to be your body that gets you through it, it will be your mind. I think that whether you do it in a marathon or do it in another way, Airmen should challenge themselves physically and mentally.”
    “Coming off of a PT failure a few years ago, I swore I would never let that happen again,” said Stearns. “I had gained a lot of weight and, overall, I just wasn’t healthy. I wanted to make a positive change in my life, but I needed a goal to get me there. When you have 26 miles that you have to run, I think it helps you stay focused. I would recommend this to any Airman.”
    The Marine Corps Marathon is held annually in Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C. on the last Saturday in October. Anyone 14 years of age or older is eligible to participate. Sgt. Stearns is already looking forward to running the race next year.
    “I swore right after that I would never, ever do another one, but then two or three days later I’m already trying to plan a trip back again.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.27.2017
    Date Posted: 01.03.2018 13:09
    Story ID: 261238
    Location: DC, US
    Hometown: EAST GRANBY, CT, US
    Hometown: HARTFORD, CT, US

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