BATTAN DEATH MARCH EMOTIONAL, EXTREME, EXHILARATING

 
 
BATAAN DEATH MARCH MEMORIAL MARATHON
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE NEW MEXICO
 
 
 
 
 

 WHITE SANDS MONUMENT

 

 MANIACS PRE- RACE
 
 EVERY MISSLE EVER SHOT

 

 
 

 THIS IS THE UNIFORM THE SURVIVORS WORE
INSPIRATION ON THE TRAIL
 

UP UP UP
 

 
A SURVIVOR AT THE LINE 

STEPHEN YEE !!!
 

 THIS MAY BE THE ONE WE WENT UP
BEN SKARDEN
 
 
THE REWARD
 
 
 
THIS WAS A VERY SPECIAL LIFE EVENT  ATTENDING THE 26TH ANNUAL BATAAN DEATH MARCH MEMORIAL  MARATHON ON THE WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE IN NEW MEXCIO. 50 STATERS CLAIM IT AS THE MOST OUTSTANDING IN ALL THE STATES . TOTAL AGREEMENT.
 
IT IS A MILITARY MARCH  ON A DIFFICULT ROUTE IN FULL UNIFORM AND 35 LB PACK THAT CIVILIANS CAN ATTEND AND GO HEAVY OR LIGHT (NO PACK).  I CHOSE LIGHT.  IT STARTS AT ALTITUDE,  GOES UP FOR 6 MILES STRAIGHT, THEN DOWN THRU DESERT AND MOST OF IT IT SANDY TRAIL.  IN A WORD EXTREME.  THE EVENT HONORS THE SURVIVORS OF THE BATAAN DEATH MARCH IN WWII IN THE PHILIPINES.  MANY MANY  DIED, FEW SURVIVED AND AT AGE 97,  7 OF THE HEROES WERE AT THE MARCH TO  SHARE THEIR STORY, AND OFFER US INSPIRATION.  ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF YOU TELL YOURSELF -I HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO GET THRU THIS. A TESTAMENT TO THE BEST IN THE SOUL AND  HUMANITY IN THE FACE OF THE UNSPEAKABLE.
 
HERE IS MY TAKE ON THE HISTORICAL SUMMARY.  DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND GOOGLE A GOOD VERSION OF IT TO REALLY BE INFORMED.- NEW MEXICO NATIONAL GUARD UNITS WERE IN THE PHILIPPINES ALONG WITH ILLINOIS AND KENTUCKY UNITS.  SHORTLY AFTER PEARL HARBOR THEY FOUGHT OFF THE JAPANESE FOR 2 MONTHS WITH FEW SUPPLIES OR FOOD AND WERE CAPTURED AND MARCHED 65 MILES FOR 10 DAYS WITH NO FOOD OR WATER. THOSE THAT FALTERED WERE SLAUGHTERED.  AFTER TIME IN HORRIFIC PRISON CAMPS, THE MEN WERE PUT ON UNMARKED BOATS-(BOMBED BY THE US AS SUPPLY SHIPS)- AND SENT OFF TO BE SLAVES UNTIL THE END OF THE WAR.  STARVATION DISEASE, TORTURE YOU NAME IT- IT HAPPENED.
 
EVERY MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND WAS PURPOSEFUL, AND HAD A LESSON ATTACHED.  MY FIRST CLUE OF WHAT WAS TO COME WAS ON THE FLIGHT TO EL PASO TX, I NOTICED THERE WERE NO SKINNY RUNNER TYPES ON THE PLANE,  JUST MILITARY TYPES WITH BIG ARM MUSCLES, SHORT HAIR AND INTENSE GAZES.  I STARTED CRYING WHEN I WENT TO THE BACK OF THE PLANE AND SAW A YOUNG MAN WITH HIS ARMS BURNED OFF AND BASICALLY DIDN’T STOP UNTIL I GOT BACK HOME.
 
THE BASE WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE WHICH IS WHY THEY TESTED THE ATOMIC BOMB THERE. ALSO CLOSE BY WAS THE BEAUTIFUL WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT.  KIDS WERE SLEDDING DOWN THE HUGE WHITE DUNES.  FABULOUS AND BREATHTAKING.
 
HOW ANYTHING SUSTAINS LIFE IN THE DESERT I REALLY CANNOT FATHOM.  JUST SAND, ROCKS, MOUNTAINS AND WIND.  NOT A HINT OF WATER  ANYWHERE.
 
SATURDAY WAS A HISTORY SESSION, INTRODUCTION OF THE 7 SURVIVORS AT THE MARCH-97 YEARS OLD !!! AND A SMALL GROUP SESSION HEARING THE SURVIVORS STORY. I ATTENDED BEN SKARDEN’S 90 MINUTE TALK THAT WAS INSPIRING, INSIGHTFUL, HUMOROUS AND UPLIFTING. 97 YEARS OLD AND HE TRAVELLED FROM SOUTH CAROLINA.  WHAT AN HONOR IT WAS TO BE IN HIS PRESENCE. HE DID 8 MILES OF THE MARCH. BELIEVE IT.
 
RACE DAY WAKE UP WAS 2 AM TO BE ON THE BASE BY 4 AM.  OPENING CEREMONIES WERE 6:30 WITH A 7 AM START. WE GOT A MANIAC PHOTO WITH ONE MEMBER IN UNIFORM AND OFF WE WENT.  THE TRAIL WAS MOSTLY DIRT, SAND AND PERSONALLY FOR ME THE ALTITUDE WAS KILLER .  TALK ABOUT BREATHING THRU A STRAW.  THERE WAS PAVEMENT BUT ALL I REMEMBER WAS THE MIDDLE 10 MILES UP/DOWN  THE MOUNTAIN TRAIL WERE ENDLESS, BEAUTIFUL AND EXTREME.  IT GOT HOT AS WELL.  I ACTUALLY GOT A HUGE SHOULDER CRAMP FROM MY OUTSTANDINGLY POOR POSTURE – LEANING INTO THE HILL AND WIND.  I THOUGHT IT WAS A HEART ATTACK BUT I REMEMBERED THE ALTITUDE AND PRESSED ON. WHEN WE SAW THE LEADERS COMING BACK  DOWN THEY LOOKED HOLLOW AND TOTALLY SPENT. I’M SURE WE LOOKED  MUCH WORSE.
 
LATE IN THE RACE I FOUND MARY AND PAUL, SOME MANIACS  FROM NYC SO WE PASSED A FEW MILES AND GLIDED THRU THE INFAMOUS SAND PIT WITHOUT KNOWING IT.  A LESSON IN BEING IN THE MOMENT- I HAD SPENT MANY MANY HOURS OBSESSING ABOUT THE  INFAMOUS DEEP SAND PIT-LOW AND BEHOLD  THEY HAD BULLDOZED IT  PARTIALLY OUT SO THE WOUNDED VETS COULD MAKE IT THRU WITHOUT AN EVAC. SO THERE ALL YOU NEGATIVE THOUGHTS !
 
 HOW ABOUT THE PIC ABOVE WITH THE FELLOW WITH 1 ARM AND 1 LEG ?  HE WAS GETTING ALONG  GREAT,  AND HAD A CUTE KILT ON BUT I WORRIED ABOUT HIS SUNBURN. THRU MANY TEARS I THANKED HIM FOR HIS SERVICE AS I WONDERED HOW I COULD TAKE ONE MORE STEP THE COURSE WAS SO TOUGH.
 
WE FINISHED UP ON THE BASE WHERE THE HOT  SUN WAS BAKING OFF A CONCRETE WALL, THE WIND WAS HOWLING.   I WENT IN WITH A VETERAN  NAMED MONICA FROM LAS CRUCES. EVEN THOUGH IT WAS FLAT SHE WAS SO KIND TO DO A FEW STEPS RUN AND MOSTLY WALK WITH ME TO THE FINISH. I WAS TOAST, IT WAS SO HARD. I CANNOT FATHOM THE CONCEPT OF FULL UNIFORM AND PACK, AND MANY OF THOSE GUYS HAD ALREADY FINISHED BEFORE ME. WHOA.  THE WINDS MOST OF THE DAY WERE CONSTANT STRONG HOT AND DRY. RIGHT AFTER I FINISHED IT KICKED UP TO 40 MPH AND I HEARD THERE WA A FULL BLOWN SANDSTORM. SOME PEOPLE WERE OUT THERE FOR OVER 13 HOURS.
 
THERE WAS NO ANNOUNCER, NO MEDAL, NO MUSIC JUST THE SURVIVORS WAITING AT THE LINE TO GIVE YOU A HAND SHAKE. MANY TEARS IN THAT MOMENT- THANK YOU GENTLEMEN FOR YOUR SERVICE AND SACRIFICE.
 
A SIDEBAR HIGHLIGHT WAS GETTING A PHOTO  AFTER THE RACE WITH THE FOUNDER OF THE MANIACS STEPHEN YEE. ROYALTY AND A LIFE MOMENT.
 
THANK YOU  VETS, ALWAYS  REMEMBER BATAAN AND KNOW ANYTHING  IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE.
 
NEXT STOP FOR ME IS  OLATHE KANSAS IN A MONTH FOR AN OZ THEMED MARATHON. FLAT  AND PAVED.  SAY YES TO THAT. TOTO I WILL SEE YOU SOON.
 
“YOU JUST FIND A WAY TO SURVIVE, YOU JUST HAVE TO DO IT – FIND A WAY”
-BEN SKARDEN
 
BE WELL MY FRIENDS AND HAPPY EASTER TO ALL.
 
NW
 



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