BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Legend tells the marathon originated as a dedication to the run of a Greek soldier, Pheidippides (fy-dippi-duhs). He ran from a battlefield in the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C. The tale goes on to say that he delivered the message, "victory," before he collapsed at his commander's feet.
During the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Feb. 17, 2013, soldiers of the 314th Public Affairs Operations Center proclaimed a message of victory as they competed in the full, half and relay portions of the marathon.
Each soldier wore a uniform. Not a digital-patterned camouflage uniform and tan boots; but running gear that ranged from basic pants and sweatshirts to pink professional racing shirts and purple skull caps. Each soldier was still focused on the same goal; completing their part of the competition in the best time possible.
"This gave our soldiers a goal to achieve outside of our bi-annual Army Physical Fitness Test," said Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Hamilton, operations noncommissioned officer for the 314th PAOC. "We wanted to motivate our Soldiers to improve their physical fitness."
Hamilton competed in the full marathon with a time of 3:25:39, which was good enough to place him within the top 100 males and 16th in his age division. Hamilton's time was approximately 10 minutes shy of the qualifying time for the 2014 Boston Marathon, which is 3:15:00.
Hamilton achieved this feat during his first ever entrance into the 26.2-mile race.
His competitive nature and strong sense of the Warrior Ethos will not let him stop with this accomplishment.
"I will be competing in the Savannah Rock'n'Roll Marathon in November," he said. "I want to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon."
Hamilton's dedication to competition is as unique as the pink shirt, yellow shorts and purple skullcap that he wore during the race.
"My runs are dedicated to my cousin, Sherri Bostock," he said. "She had a double mastectomy and is currently going through chemotherapy to treat breast cancer."
Hamilton wore the same shirt during his completion of the Army Ten-miler in 2012.
Three soldiers competed in the half marathon. Sgt. Steven Reeves, public affairs noncommissioned officer for the 314th PAOC, finished in a time of 1:40:47; for a pace of 7:42 per mile. Sgt. Lisa Simunaci, broadcast journalist with the 314th PAOC, completed the race in 2:08:08. Spc. William Taylor, public affairs specialist with the unit, crossed the finish line in 2:22:23.
The remaining competitors from the unit competed in the five-man relay marathon. The twelve remaining soldiers were split into three teams with a marathon runner or half marathon runner as their first leg runner of the race.
The 314th PAOC 1, the first team from the unit to finish the race, recorded a time of 3:38:56. This time was good enough for a top 10 finish in the mixed team division. Team members consisted of Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Hamilton, Cpt. Christopher Parker, Staff Sgt. Sheila Holifield, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Glassford and 2nd Lt. Carolyn Nielsen.
Runners of 314th PAOC 3 finished next with a time of 3:44:11. Team members were Lt. Col. Timothy Smith, Maj. Jesse Stalder, Sgt. Steven Reeves, 1st Lt. Lewis Kyle and Staff Sgt. Bryan Tull.
314th PAOC 2 finished in a time of 3:58:54. Members of this team were Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Luchsinger, 1st Lt. Sara Morris, Spc. William Taylor, Spc. James Clifton and Kimberly Hamilton.
"Victory," was proclaimed by all the soldiers of the 314th PAOC. Each soldier held up their part of the mission and lived up to the Army Values. This accomplishment places them in the company of a long line of athletes with a badge of honor that dates back almost 2,000 years.