Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bataan Memorial Death March ~ Post Race Thoughts

Team Beauty and the Geeks:
This weekend I was joined by a team to take on the Bataan Memorial Death March. Teams weren’t organized in the 2 typical fashions we normally see: Relays and team avg times. Rather, in keeping with the military spirit of “no man left behind,” we were tasked with the goal of starting, running, and completing the challenging marathon together—only allowed to finish within 20 seconds of each other. If somebody dropped out, the whole team was disqualified, but could finish the race. This wasn’t a requirement for the race (you could run as individuals) but I managed to convince 4 others to join me for team “Beauty and the Geeks.”
(Pic: Team Beauty and the geeks-- the far left guy is not on our team)

My team consisted of myself, Dave C. (Cinci runner), Jeff R. (Cinci Runner), John K. (Albany runner), and Brent S. (fellow 50-stater). We were also joined by 3 other Cincinnati runners (Kim R., Steve T. & Tony A) and MB (Albany) who were unable to find a 5th member to create a team but had a great time running as individuals. Team Beauty and the Geeks, also adopted an unofficial 6th member. As we approached the top of the climb, we found an Airforce 2nd Lieutenant (I’m hoping I got that right) named Roman who made us look bad, as we had to catch up with him and he was running in his full uniform (boots and all). He stayed with us the remainder of the race, answering our many questions and keeping us entertained and motivated. Roman ended up first for military individuals. My vote is, every individual and team be assigned a military personnel to run with!! You know... here is your timing chip, here is your t-shirt, and here is your soldier, enjoy the race!

Kicked out of NM??
It was a close call on getting my 26th state in, as MB nearly got us kicked out of NM twice! The first was at the military base. As we approached the base there were many signs indicating that we were NOT to take pictures at the entrance to the base. What does MB do? Rolls down her window as we’re approaching the guard shack and starts taking pics. What does the US military do? Aside from (likely) pointing missiles at our car—they told her to delete the pics and put the camera away, then they spent extra time on our ID’s getting into the base.

Close call #2 occurred about 2 hours later when we were leaving the base. MB was speeding (as per usual) and got pulled over by a state police officier. The flustered MB yelled that she’s not from that state and is here for the marathon, and any other excuse she could use. Luckily she managed to get out of the ticket. Since we were so very close to the Mexican border I thought for SURE she would find a way to get us involved with border control—but lucky for Brent, John and I (who were riding with MB) she avoided those guys!

The march was definitely a little challenge—There is a pretty good sized climb, mixed with altitude, as well as 1-2 miles of what they call the “sandpit” (very loose sand on small rolling hills), and the weather definitely started to heat up, but we lucked out with a cool breeze in the air.

(Pic: Elevation chart by water stops, not miles)
However, at the top of the hill you definitely realize the climb was worth the view! The desert mountains (some topped with snow) are absolutely beautiful!

(Pic: Bataan Start-- Sunrise on the beautiful scenery!)

Our team was in the civilian co-ed division and we ended up with 3rd overall, losing to a seriously fit national guard team that ran as civilians. Unfortunately they only give out medals to the top 2 in each division. Our team actually came in with a time of 4:18:23 and 3rd overall for ALL teams entered into the competition. Not bad! Note: My T-shirt is from the flying pig marathon... at the finish people were yelling out "GO PIG!" Ummm... not wearing that one in races anymore.

(Team Beauty and the Geeks at the finish!)

But, our results were definitely not the focus this weekend. The focus on this march (NOT a run) was the past and present soldiers fighting for the US. In most races, we break out all the results for individuals overall, in age groups, divisions, etc. This race had very little focus on the individual—the closing ceremonies didn’t even include the race results. Rather, it honored our military personnel, especially those who were part of the real Bataan Death March.

I would definitely reccomend this marathon to anybody! The amazing experience is worth the trip from ANYWHERE. There is a little challenge with the hills and heat, so I wouldn't go for time-- but hey, sometimes the 26.2 isn't enough and an added challenge is fun!

Note: Thanks Jeff R. for the pics!
Note 2: Thanks team Beauty and the Geeks for a great run and a great weekend!

Happy Running,


  1. Nice work and congrats

    How did you like the sand pit at mile 21?

  2. Glad you were able to recover and make it out for the marathon. Sounds like a great time! I'm glad the heat wasn't much of a factor. I'm hoping for the same for my race in NV in April. Maybe I'll be lucky and get a cool breeze too! Congratulations on another marathon finish!

  3. Congrats on # 26!

    Sounds like a great event... running a marathon in a group and having no choice but to stick together can't always be easy.

    Awesome having your owb personal soldier. :)

  4. It sounds like an amazing experince. With Army son finishing basic training this week, it reminds me alot of the training he has undertaken; more to it than what you see on the surface!

  5. All-in-all, it was a spectacular day. The highlight has to be all of us running with Lt. Roman Lopez as we neared the finish line.

    Followed closely by our descent of the mountain and getting to cheer on all the soldiers on their way up. It amazing that you can see people running at half your speed and know that they're doing more work than you are!

    The low point has to be my "explosive display" with a mile to go. Sorry I slowed you all down.

    I've been in a lot of team events before. But this is the first "TEAM" I've ever really run with.


  6. Good team work and congrats!.

  7. Ok I dont know how to sign onto this thing....But this is MB or Mary Or mom,,,,,I never saw the sign saying no pix,,,and who invites you to their house and says "dont take pictures"
    2. the Speed limit went from 65 to 50 going down a mountain...But I had the excuse of driving a run away toyota!!!!
    3. We were not even near Mexico while on base or running only driving back to the airport (AND YOU WERE SLEEPING IN THE CAR THEN)
    4. We love our Military...what a great exp. watching all those men and woman I always had respect for them b4 but this will stay with me forever!!!!! We have some amazing people protecting our country!
    Ok thats all I have to say
    Love MOM

  8. Hehe, I love the stories of your mom and I love that she commented to explain herself above! That sounds like an incredible racing experience. Congrats on #26

  9. Was there a flyover by fighter jets just before the start? That was exciting when I ran Bataan.

  10. Great job Beauty & Geeks! Your company made the sand pit not seem so bad :) Congrats on conquering a very tough course!


  11. To anonymous -- yes, there was a flyover by jets at the start.

    To MB: another one I did with you this year.

    To all: There were only two surviving Bataan veterans to meet this year -- a highlight if you are military -- so you don't want to postpone doing this or there may be none left.
    Also: when I ran this five years back, I felt guilty I was not carrying a 35 pound ruck like many of the military were doing, so this year I trained up to do that with them. I can't say it helped my speed, but it did help my ego (and at 60+, even lets you place in your age group.) Consider the "heavy" division if that sounds doable to you.