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    Marines motivate runners in the mud

    Mud run

    Courtesy Photo | Participants at the Marine Mud Challenge in Belmont, N.C., climb over a wall obstacle...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Marine Forces Reserve

    BELMONT, N.C. -- Reserve Marines got down and dirty in the trenches here Sept. 10 to help facilitate the town’s annual Marine Mud Run.

    The grueling seven-mile course held annually in the fall, challenges participants with a variety of obstacles and difficult terrain.

    The run has been facilitated by a local non-profit organization for the past five years and attracts hundreds of athletes in the Charlotte area, as well as many others from the tri-state region. More than 800 runners participated in this year’s event.

    Reserve Marines throughout North Carolina provided volunteer manpower in the obstacle mud trenches, located around mile five of the course.

    “It’s important that as Marines, we come out here and get involved with the community,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Kissiah, a computer repair technician from Greensboro, N.C., who is currently on mobilization orders in the communications department of 4th Maintenance Battalion in nearby Charlotte. “And the camaraderie is great. As Marines, we love to motivate people. At the mud run, we can get filthy, motivate the runners, get to know the community volunteers, and just have a great time.”

    Team participants hailed from local civilian fitness centers, schools, businesses, police and fire departments. Additionally, service members from active-duty and reserve military units across the region, in addition to many university Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, came out to compete.

    “It was awesome having the Marines there,” said Camille Adams, who participated with three other teammates from her running group, the Hash House Harriers. “It keeps people going to have [the Marines] out there encouraging you. You’re tired at that point, you feel like you have nothing left, and it really motivates you to keep going for the last two miles.”

    For many of the Marine volunteers this event is something they plan into their schedules, despite competing interests and requirements in their busy lives.

    Cpl. Jarris McGhee-Bey, a journalism student at the North Carolina Central University and small arms repair technician with 4th Maintenance Bn., gave up one of his last free weekends to help out in the mud pits at the race. He was recently mobilized and is set to deploy to Afghanistan later this month.

    “This is my fourth year [volunteering at the Marine Mud Run], and I come out here because it is the right thing to do,” said McGhee-Bey. “The race gets us involved in the community, and it helps out wounded warriors. That is important, because as Marines we always take care of our own. That is the meaning of semper fidelis. We can’t lose sight of that.”

    In traditional Marine Corps drill instructor fashion, the Reserve Marines shouted encouragement as the exhausted runners trudged through the waist-deep mud and water. The Marine volunteers straddled the obstacle walls, encouraging teamwork as the runners pushed and pulled each other up and over.

    “Charlotte is the largest city in the state, and many people are not aware that Marine reservists are living in the area, as well as soldiers from the Army Reserve and National Guard, live here. As a Marine veteran myself, this gives the Marines a significant amount of exposure to the community. My goal is to facilitate that connection,” said Aaron Harper, the event’s main organizer, who works at a local university.

    “When I was injured during Desert Storm, it was a huge economic burden for my family to come from New York to Camp Lejeune to visit me,” said Harper.

    “There were no organizations to help out families at that time. Now there are, and it is great to see patriotic Americans coming together, at events like this, to show their support for those Marines and their families.”

    Marines on staff at the Wounded Warrior Battalion East Headquarters at Camp Lejeune, N.C., also came out to show their support for the event.

    “This kind of thing is important, because reserve Marines are a part of the community and it gives [civilian members of the community] a chance to see us outside of the uniform,” said Staff Sgt. James Alston, a light armored vehicle crewman and career reservist who volunteered for one-year mobilization orders to serve as the substance abuse counseling officer for Wounded Warrior Battalion East Headquarters at Camp Lejeune.

    At the beginning of the mud pit area, Alston stood next to the log which spanned a 15-foot ditch. In a loud and commanding voice, he guided runners into the water and under the log, and directed them to the wall obstacle which followed.

    “This was great, but we need to get more Marines out there next year to experience the excitement and camaraderie,” added Alston.



    Date Taken: 09.16.2011
    Date Posted: 09.16.2011 08:55
    Story ID: 77130
    Location: BELMONT, NC, US 

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