Twenty-Six Sailors Aboard USS George H. W. Bush Run Marine Corps Marathon Forward

Twenty-six Sailors Aboard USS George H W Bush Run Marine Corps Marathon Forward

Twenty-six Sailors currently deployed aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) participated in the 36th Marine Corps Marathon Oct. 30 through the Marine Corps Marathon Forward program.

The Marine Corps Marathon, or “The People’s Marathon,” is a 26.2-mile race in Washington, D.C. that began on Nov. 7, 1976. The Marine Corps Marathon Forward program began in 2006 to offer forward-deployed service members a chance to participate.

Capt. Brian E. Luther, the ship’s commanding officer, came up with the idea to run the marathon on the ship’s treadmills. He worked with the ship’s “Fun Boss,” Joshua Watson, and the ship’s “Fit Boss,” Anthony Benning, to coordinate the event through Marine Corps Marathon Forward. Watson, Benning, and their teams were also in charge of making sure the treadmills could withstand the work load of three marathons each in one day.

“The whole team effort made everything work so well,” said Watson.

Due to the limited number of treadmills on board the ship, Watson split the runners into three groups to run at three different times throughout the day.

“I had never run a marathon before now,” Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class (AW) Steven T. Rohrbach. “The fact that it was while I was deployed is just a plus.”

In May, some of the Sailors took the opportunity to run in the Malvern Half Marathon during a port visit in Portsmouth, England. Doubling that 13.1 mile effort, and doing it on a treadmill, is not an easy task. However, a few of the Marine Corps Marathon Forward participants looked forward to the opportunity to complete both a half-marathon and a marathon while on deployment.

“To say that I ran a half-marathon and a full marathon while deployed is a pretty big accomplishment,” Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class (AW) Hans C. Wiedenhofer, George H.W. Bush Air Department.

Many of the runners were not accustomed to running long distances on a treadmill. Due to the limited space for free running and the 30-minute time limit on the ship’s treadmills, the training required to complete the distance had a few runners worried about the outcome.

“I started training about three months ago,” said Ensign Gregory R. Jones, Strike Fighter Squadron 31. “That last month, I couldn’t find the time to train as hard as I should have and I felt it towards the end of the race.”

Jones has run in four other Marine Corps Marathons but this was his first on a deployed aircraft carrier.
Lt. j.g. John J. Gnik, George H.W. Bush Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, was the fastest runner with a time of 3:23:18.

Although the runners didn’t get to experience the thrill of running through Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall and the Marine Corps War Memorial – more commonly referred to as the Iwo Jima Monument – Sailors still enjoyed the bragging rights of completing a marathon while deployed on an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Gulf. Each finisher received a Marine Corps Marathon finisher’s medal and a certificate for his/her achievements along with a shirt and patch.

“If there’s a marathon out there that’s worth running, it’s the Marine Corps Marathon,” said Jones. “There are many other nice marathons, but none of them are like the Marine Corps Marathon.”

George H.W. Bush is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

Source: navy, November 02, 2011