ATHENS, Greece- Many athletes have said that there is no better feeling in the world than crossing the finish line of a marathon after pushing their body to the limit.

The first marathon dates back to 490 B.C. Greece when Pheidippides, a Greek Army Soldier, ran 26.2 miles from the city of Marathon, Greece to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians. During the first modern Olympic games in 1896, marathon runners ran the same route as Pheidippides in 490 B.C. Several U.S. Army officers from the 18th Military Police Brigade participated in marathon races throughout Europe last year, with several participating in The Athens Marathon on November 11, 2018.

Preparing for a marathon takes weeks of training and hours of dedication, according to Lt. Benjamin Jackson of the 902th Engineer Company, 15th Engineer Battalion.

"I was running about 6 days a week, with at least one run being over 10 miles," said Lt. Jackson. "Closer to the race, I started to break into the 15-20 mile range."

Lt. Jackson was joined by fellow platoon leaders Lt. Marie Hunt, Lt. Luke Demoes, and Lt. Nicholas Smith.
For some leaders, this was their first marathon.

"I have ran a couple half marathons, but this will be my first full marathon, so why not run the original marathon," said 1st Lt. Sierra Ejzak of Headquarters and Headquarters company, 18th Military Police Brigade. "I am so lucky to have the chance to run the marathon in Athens this year, and I am excited to accomplish this goal."

Capt. Daniel Lucero of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 709th Military Police Battalion, like other 18th Military Police leaders, is no stranger to running long distances.

"I achieved my goal of running my first marathon in under 4 hours and came in at 3 hours and 51 minutes," said Lucero. "When I crossed the finish line all I felt was pain and satisfaction. All I was worried about was achieving my goal. Knowing that I achieved it, all I wanted to do was lay down and let my body rest."

Even after all the pain, the leaders said they would absolutely run another marathon.

Lt. Luke Demoes said, "Yes! I would absolutely run another marathon. I want to improve my time, especially on a flatter course, and when I have the opportunity to train more effectively prior to the race."

CW2 Renee Velizsalce of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 15th Engineer Battalion has participated in 20 marathons to include a 34-mile ultra-marathon.

"I have a passion for long distance running," said Velizsalce. "I am a testament that anyone can do it with minimum to no training. My motivation is always contagious; others will try once they see that someone like me can do it."