The Saturday morning air was cold, but filled with the excitement of the spirited Marine Corps Marathon crowd. As the 50 caliber starting gun booms, runners begin, taking almost half an hour to get across the starting line because of the size of the crowd! Some are dressed in Halloween costumes, but most proudly sport a patriotic look, carrying American flags and wearing military t-shirts. Among them are some of our own, our Team Marine Parents participants!
The day before, our Team Marine Parents members met to tour the new Bethesda/Walter Reed Medical Facility in Bethesda, Maryland. Though it was a wintery, snowy day, our participants were warmed by seeing the level of care our wounded Marines, Navy, and Army receive as they transition back to their lives at home. Later, participants met for a serious carbo-loaded meal to prepare for the run the next day at a popular Italian restaurant in Washington D.C. Participant Barbara Lopez noted their waiter mentioning they had reservations for 700 that night, which gave them an excellent chance to meet and connect with other runners in the Marine Corps Marathon.
Those connections motivated their spirits even more at the starting line Saturday morning. Team Marine Parents hand cyclist, Josef Lopez, was first to take off at 7:45, followed at 8:00 by the runners. Marathon participants ran past many historical sites, including the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Capital Building, Washington Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon, the graves at Arlington, and finally the Iwo Jima statue. As the marathoners took off, our Team Marine Parents 10K representative, Barbara Gemmill, did too, starting at the Smithsonian castle, across some icy bridges, and ending the 6.2 miles at the same finish line. A surprise guest, the Commandant, was standing at the line to offer his congratulations, giving the runners a final blast of energy to finish the race!
One of our TMP™ participants, Jim Reikowsky, said he was very happy to receive his finisher medal from a Marine Corps Officer. Another participant, Brian Wilkinson, had to stop running at mile 15 because of severe knee pain, but said he is already looking forward to and training for next year!
The next day, TMP™ participants helped with the Purple Heart Hero Support™ dinner at the Bethesda/Walter Reed Medical Center. The volunteers not only got to help with the meal, but also interacted with therapy dogs and visited with patients in many units. Barbara Lopez reflected on the whole weekend’s experience, saying how humbling it was meeting our heroes, the wounded and their families, and urges everyone to mark their calendars for October 28, 2012, the next Marine Corps Marathon, so you can be a part of this wonderful experience too!