WASHINGTON - Working only by the light of cellphone screens, more than 40 Marines prepared their post at Water Point 6, at Hains Point, Washington, D.C., on Oct. 27, 2013.
They filled one cup after another, preparing shots of Gatorade and water for the estimated 30,000 runners of the 38th annual Marine Corps Marathon.
“We are here to support the community and the runners,” said Maj. Arthur Sladack, policy analyst from Marine Corps Base Quantico. “I think we’ll be successful by not running out of water.”
As the sun rose, revealing hundreds of cups the Marines had filled, the race began, 13 miles away.
Meanwhile, the Water Point 6 Marines did everything they could to stay warm and focus on their mission.
“Civilians support us every day, so this is one way to give back,” said Lance Cpl. Abagaile Venable. “I want to leave knowing that I gave someone the push to finish the race.”
As the lonely point absorbed the morning chill, a group of volunteers arrived and invited the Marines to join them for coffee and donuts, warming bodies and spirits.
“We come here to extend support to the military,” said Alfredo Oasan, water point volunteer. “We can’t be on the frontline, but we can do this.”
Lining more than two dozen tables, the mix of Marines and Alpha Phi Omega District of Columbia Alumni Association volunteers, exploded with cheers of motivation and encouraging words as the first hand cycle participants rolled past shortly after 8 a.m.
Then at last the runners came, tired and lustful for something to quench their thirst. What they found at Water Point 6 was not only refreshment, but a group of dedicated people helping them to keep pushing when they felt ready to quit.
“This is what I live for,” said Venable. “I want to help people.”