By Julia LeDoux | Inside NOVA | Insidenova.com | October 30, 2011
WASHINGTON --The People’s Marathon brought thousands of runners and spectators to Arlington, Rossyln, and Washington, D.C. Sunday as the 36th annual Marine Corps Marathon saw its fastest finish in nearly 15 years.
The overall winner of the 26.2-mile race was Army 1st Lt. Charles Ware of Wheeling, Ill. Ware, a member of the Army’s racing team, finished the race in 2:19:16. The first place female winner was Tezata Dengersa, a native of Turkey who lives in Ellicot City, Md., who finished in 2:45:28. The first Marine to cross the finish line was 1st Lt. Sean Barrett in 2:38.
Approximately 30,000 runners participated in the event, with hundreds of them lacing up their sneakers in support of various charities.
Army Col. Brad Mitchell ran for Team Azalea Charities, a Prince William County non-profit that provides aid to wounded warriors and their families.
“I wanted to run for wounded warriors, other than just for myself,” said Mitchell, who was participating in his seventh Marine Corps Marathon, his first for Azalea Charities.
Members of the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Quantico Marine Corps base ran for The Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit set up to provide immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Maj. Susie Stark, officer in charge of the WWR’s athlete reconditioning program, road a tandem bike in the race with Chuck Sketch, a Marine veteran who was diagnosed with cancer in 1997. As a result of a brain tumor, Sketch lost his sight. Several months after that, he lost his legs due to an infection.
“He is one of the most positive people I have ever met,” Stark said of Sketch. “He is an inspiration to many people.”
Stark and Sketch had some mechanical challenges with their bike around the nine mile mark of the race, but that didn’t deter them from finishing.
“We made it through,” Stark said with a wide smile. “Chuck is a special guy.”
Sketch, an active participant in the regiment’s Atlhete Reconditioning Program, has also taken part in the Warrior Games and Ride to Recovery.
Col. Jay Krail, the WWR’s executive officer, said the Semper Fi Fund’s support extends beyond simply injured or ill service members.
“I don’t think there’s a Marine one way or another who hasn’t been impacted by it,” he said.
To learn more about Azalea Charities, visit azaleacharities.org. To learn more about the Semper Fi Fund, visit www.semperfifund.org.