Running the Marine Corps Marathon down under
In October 2019 in the midst of pouring rain, I ticked off a major item on my bucket list by slowly completing the Leidos-sponsored Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in the USA. The People’s Marathon had long been a focus for me – its focus on people, its respect for those who have served and also the magical scenery around Arlington, Va., D.C., and the surrounds. So I ran/swam through 1.5 inches of rain around the Iwo Jima, the Washington and Lincoln Memorials and past the Kennedy Center, U.S. Capitol building and the blue mile in memory of those lost in service on Hains Point. What an experience alongside 30,000 other runners!!!
This year with COVID-19, a return trip to the U.S. was never on the cards but when the Marine Corps Marathon went virtual, I set about designing my own marathon of the monuments in my hometown and Australia’s capital, Canberra. At dawn on 27 September, I set off from the Australian Defence Headquarters Joint Operations Command (a key Leidos customer site). I was briefly joined en route to Canberra by a friendly mob of roadside kangaroos and a not so friendly magpie (Aussie native bird) protecting its nest; probably my fastest mile of the day.
Once into Canberra, it was a journey past our national monuments including the Australian War Memorial and Parliament House. My run finished up at the U.S. Embassy where I was greeted by two United States Marine Corps (USMC) Colonels and presented with my finisher’s medallion. Once of the great MCM traditions was completed when I was saluted by one of the Colonels. I also remember a newly created tradition when we shared some refreshing drinks on the lawns of the Embassy, courtesy of the U.S. government. My, they tasted amazing.
The highlight for me was (using the benefits of the timezones) was finishing first in a marathon (not the fastest but the first)! It was also being joined by a group of close friends for sections of the run and raising $1,500 for Leidos Australia’s charity partner – Bravery Trust – providing emergency financial relief to serving & retired members of the Australian Defence Force who have a serious physical and mental injuries. We often focus on our service people when they head off to serve – their needs when they return are often overlooked.
In the weeks since the Marathon, it’s been great watching online the host of people running their own marathons in their own corners of the world. Whilst COVID-19 has kept us apart, it’s great to come together as a caring and supportive community to encourage each other and reflect on those who serve. In the words of the Marines - Semper Fi (always faithful)!