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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marathon Day!…2:30AM to 8PM…It was worth the time!


March 23, 2014

On Sunday, the main road coming into White Sands Missile Range is closed at 5am. This is because the marathon 6,200 Bataan Death March Marathon Participants!course crosses the paved roadway at the underpass on route US70. Jerry could only get accommodations in Las Cruces and had to enter the base before the road closed. Well, normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but remember, this marathon has 6,200 participants and the bulk of them were driving iBurt, Don, Poncho and Jerry...Bataan Death March Marathon...March 23, 2014n the day of the event. I told Jerry and Cathy to knock on our camper door so they could warm up. They were on base at 2:30am, but the spot that I had reserved, in front of our truck, was taken by someone else. I was also up at 2:30am figuring they would come in anytime. What I didn’t realize was that the parked car in front of our truck wasn’t theirs. I called him and he was parked over towards the start line. We connected around 5am. Jerry and Cathy

Now, for the unbelievable Bataan Death March Marathon... I’ve seen many events in my life, but this was certainly one that will be remembered for a long time. Here in front of my eyes, were 6,200 participants mostly made up of: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coastguard and even Marines, all of which were volunteers to participate in this remembrance of all the Bataan Memorial Death March  that occurred iHere's to you Babe!n 1942.

Jerry was psyched and ready! I still can’t imagine a guy, who never has run a marathon (26.5 miles) with a rucksack weighing 45 lbs. and walk over terrain that is several miles up hill, in desert conditions, from sand to rocky trails, to pavement. What a guy!

After the opening ceremony, the participants were Early Sunrisereleased in different stages. The wounded warriors were first, followed by the heavy (rucksack) military and so on. Each walker/runner had a digital chip tied to their footware to record start, intermediate and finish times. We all cheered Jerry on his quest to complete the marathon. Some professional marathoners would complete the course in unbelievable time, of course with no rucksack. We left and drove to the first and only water station that would allow us to watch Jerry come by and encourage hiJerry (3rd from the left) nearing the finish line! Airborne!!m. Jerry came by and a volunteer gave him a cup of water. Cathy also held a cup and I took a picture. I titled it “The Toast”.

It was some time after 8am when he passed the first water station with another 24 miles ahead of him. Helen, Cathy and myself went back to the truck camper for a rest and contemplation on what Jerry would now be facing. He had figured between 8 to 9 hours. He planned on stopping often to change socks to prevent chaffing on his feet. I took a nap and the ladies wen9:09.20 when left foot hits the mat!t for a walk and soon we were at the finish line. Some of the professionals were already crossing the finish line, but remember with no min 36lbs rucksack. After lunch, the young ROTC teams started to come in. The early afternoon saw more and more cross the finish line. The medical personnel were busy in their very well equipped field hospitals. They were set up to handle hundreds of casualties mostly from foot problems.

Around 4:30pm, Jerry came into sight of the finish line. I couldn’t believe this guy! WOW, I was fortunate to catch him (on camera)crossing the finish line with his left foot stepping on the electronic mat with a time of 9:9.21. I also was able to record them Official weight 45 pounds...9lbs over required minimumweighing his rucksack with a weight of 45lbs. He met the standards and most of all, did the run/walk in remembrance of the guys who did and didn’t make it back from the Philippines in WWII.

Jerry’s feet were like hamburg. He said he started to have trouble at the 12 mile mark. The medics took him into the first aid station and lanced his blisters. He was tired, but OK!

One has to think that the story doesn’t end with Jerry. Remember the 88 year young, who has run 323 previous marathons (from a previous blog). Well, he came in close to 8pm. What endurance! Burt is an inspiration to all of us! Untold numbers also had a very long day and must also be congratulated for their perseverance.

We are on the road again as I write this blog.Happy Wife is a Happy Life I may visit this Bataan Death Memorial March Marathon again as my mind reflects on everything that we have experienced in five days at White Sands Missile Range.

That is what we did and saw! 

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