HENDERSON HALL, Va. -- An estimated 18,900 participants crossed the starting line to run in the 28th Marine Corps Marathon Sunday Oct. 26, while another 150,000 watched or volunteered.
Marines from Henderson Hall were no exception as some ran and others volunteered.
The volunteer jobs ranged from helping the shuttle buses move runners to the start line, to setting up and running water stations.
"I can't say enough about the volunteers, Marines and civilians. They were awesome," said first-time marathon runner Lance Cpl. Jeffery Norris, who works at Henderson Hall's motor transport. "(The water station volunteers) had thousands of people coming at them, dying of thirst, and they were moving so fast to make sure everyone was taken care of."
"I knew it was going to be a big event, but I didn't realize that it would be that big. I thought it would be about 5,000 runners, not 19,000," said water station volunteer Navy Seaman James Clements, Headquarters Battalion religious program specialist.
Water station volunteers had to set up tables, unload water from trucks, make energy drink mix, and pass out drinks to runners as they came by. This was no small task. Thirty-two thousand gallons of spring water, 1,300,000 paper cups, 5,675 gallons of ULTIMA energy drink, and 1,150 tables were just some of the supplies divided among the 13 water stations.
Hard work was a priority, but it wasn't the only thing volunteers were doing.
"I was cheering people on, especially every time I saw someone I knew running," said Clements.
The cheering helped, according to Norris.
"I didn't think it would be this way, but it was really motivating because of all the support you got from everybody on the side... There was little kids on the side with their hands out and I was slapping every hand I could get to," said Norris. "When I was on that last stretch there must have been thousands of people cheering... I was so motivated that I started sprinting and I didn't feel the pain."
The Marine Corps Marathon's nickname is the "People's Marathon" because anyone is allowed to run in it and there is no prize money for finishing. The reward was pride, something both runners and volunteers had at this year's event.
"I was glad to know that they were letting the Marines and sailors on this base who weren't running an opportunity to support the event," said Clements. "I enjoyed being out there. It was fulfilling to know I was out there helping."
It was 26.2 miles before Norris received his reward. By mile 19 he hit what marathon runners refer to as "the wall" - the point where you are so exhausted you want to give up. But he didn't, and made it the last 7.2 miles to the finish.
"I did this whole thing for the (finisher's) medal. I came and I got it," he said with the look of a first-place winner on his face.