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The sun, the sand, the pain (which

was everywhere by now) started to pull on me. Several marchers were picked up along the way by ATVs. The talking amongst participants was nil. Running didn’t even seem like an option. Strangely enough, the more I hurt, the more I wanted to finish. I had everything I needed to cross the finish line, where a cheering band of New Mexico Ladies Auxiliary members awaited me.

A soldier weighs his pack to make sure it is 35 lbs. for the heavy military category.

the time I reached the summit of our course, I had to take stock and decide if I was going to finish.

I drank lots of water and Gatorade, changed my socks, ate my dried fruit (thank you!) and took some Tylenol. I was halfway, and it was downhill from there. Knowing there were many stops along the way, should I need help, I decided to continue. Ten minutes later, the pain was gone, and I was running again.

Hitting mile 20 was almost as good as getting to the finish line. Twenty miles! I had never gone that far before! Then came the last 6.2. The “Sand Pit” is exactly what it sounds like, except it lasts for five miles. A young soldier in full fatigues with a pack kept pace with me for a while. He was a returning marcher and intent on finishing. I tucked in behind him and put my feet where he put his. I was so thankful for him, not just for leading the way through that sand but for what he stood for, for his obvious commitment to his country.


I had on a pair of Mizuno trail running shoes, appropriate clothing, 100 SPF sunscreen (seriously) and a hat with a shade screen for my neck. I had a pack with extra food, Bandaids and more Powerade. Those men who were marched

through the jungle? They had nothing, nothing but a spirit of determination and each other. With 100 yards to go, I started to run again. I was going to run across that finish line no matter what. I took my first burning stride and my right ankle screamed in pain. “It’s nothing compared with their pain,” I told myself. Another stride and another. A white tent came into view and I forced myself over the timing mat, arms stretched high, trying not to cry. Then I shook the hands of seven Bataan March survivors. One of them kissed my hand.

Many hours behind me were the

Wounded Warriors, amputees who were marching for so much more than I was. They would stop dozens of times and bring more pain across that finish line than I would ever know. n CD

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