ATHENS, Greece -- Soldiers from the US Army NATO Brigade's AFSOUTH Battalion enjoyed what can truly be described as a once in a lifetime (and not every lifetime at that) experience, when they participated in the 2016 Athens Marathon, which is the original marathon after which all others are modelled.
The Athens Marathon, held annually in November, runs from Marathon to Athens, and is based on the Ancient Greek legend of Pheidippides's amazing run along the same route in 490 B.C. to deliver the simple message, "We were victorious!"
For many runners a marathon is the pinnacle of their passion, and the Athens Marathon itself, with its rich 25-hundred year history, is the very top of that pinnacle. It's the kind of undertaking a runner prepares for both mentally and physically well in advance, according to Sgt. Corey Bollinger, one of the AFSOUTH participants for whom this was the first marathon.
"I've been preparing for over 18 weeks now," he said. "Progressively running more and more, to make sure I'm ready to endure those 26 miles."
No matter how much one prepares, though, running 26 miles non-stop is definitely a struggle, and getting through it takes not only good preparation, but also the will to keep going even when it seems you just can't take one more step. For one runner, the idea of accomplishing what some around her couldn't was a very real and immediate motivation to keep pushing.
"Towards the end of the race, maybe the last 8 miles or so, I saw those who could not finish being taken on a bus to the finish line," said 2nd Lt. Madeline Alvarado. "This motivated me to keep going, as I had already came this far, I would feel disappointed in myself if I were riding by on a bus while the rest of the competitors ran the last few miles with all they had."
Additional AFSOUTH Bn. participants in this marathon included; Lt. Col. John Misenheimer, Lt. Col. Scott Walters, Staff Sgt. Larhonda Hankins, Maj. Ryan Perusich, and Staff Sgt. Arturo Valdez.