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Thursday, March 20, 2014

White Sands MR…Bataan Death March Marathon!


March 20, 2014

The Advance Party AKA Jerry’s Support Team has arrived! We were one of the first arrivals at the start/finish line and also the campground area. All of the hookup sites were reserved, but a large area was set aside for dry camping. Just up our alley! Restroom and shower facility just a hundred feet away.

One of the first RV camper arrivals parked just around the corner from us. It was a fellow named DuaneIn the beginning! Not Populated! with the nickname of “Poncho”. He had run the marathon at least three times, that I can remember him saying. He was very knowledgeable in telling us all kinds of marathon info. Poncho is also an excellent story teller and did so many times in the course of the day. He was a former Ranger and ironically served in Vietnam in my neck of the woods, or should I say rice paddy. We both enjoyed talking to him throughout the day.

Poncho had mentioned that one of his buddies would be coming later in the afternoon and he usually set up his tent right next to us. Burt was his name. Now, here is what is unusual about Burt. He is 88 years old, has run in 322 marathons of which 9 were international.Jerry, Cathy Poncho and Me Poncho said, “He only started running marathons when he was 57 years old”. Burt showed up a little later and we found him to be a wonderful character. Burt had come down from Minnesota about a week ago. He has been spending time here in the New Mexico deserts looking for rocks for his collection. He showed us two large bags of his quartz gems. He had some beauties and even gave us the choice of selecting and keeping one apiece.

Jerry and Cathy were still a few miles away at their hotel in Las Cruces. We decided to head over to the commissary for groceries. After the grocery detail, I said to Helen, “I’m going over to the base exchange and see if I can get a haircut”. Helen, stayed back to put the groceries away. I walked to the back side of the BX and spotted the barber shop. I walked up and looked inside. Who was sitting getting a haircut? Nobody, but Command Sergeant Major Jerry himself. Wow, what a surprise! Cathy was parked on the other side of the building and soon we were all reunited. We spent the day back at the campground talking to many people about the marathonBurt...88 yr young marathon wonder!! course and its difficulties.

There are several classifications that walk or run the course. From individuals to teams. Everybody agreed that the most difficult class was the military heavy class. Some of requirements in the heavy military class…are to have a regulation uniform, carry a 35 pound rucksack for the entire 26.5 mile course. It is to be weighed at the end of the course. I put the rucksack on and let me tell you, you’ve got to be insane to think that you could carry this weight on your back for 26.5 miles!Your Crazy Jerry...You'll never make it! What class do you think Jerry will be competing in? Yup, the military heavy class! Go Jerry! Another important thing to remember is that the elevation here is 4,339 feet above sea level. Back home in Berlin, NH, the elevation is  980 or so feet above sea level. The air is thinner up here and breathing is more difficult. I can’t see how Jerry will survive. He has been training back in New Hampshire, but everybody knows it’s been snowing and the temperature has been below zero making it difficult to train effectively. We will do everything to support Jerry in his goal of completing the marathon.

That is what we saw and did!


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