AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
Runners walk to the starting line to prepare. With unique challenges such as a running path highlighted by glow sticks, sand surrounding the running path, and a 3 a.m. start time, the runners began their 26.2 mile journey to complete the first Marine Corps Marathon held at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates Oct. 27, 2018.
This year marks the 43rd iteration of the Marine Corps Marathon, a race that is annually ranked as one of the largest marathons in the US and the world. It is held in Arlington, Va., National Harbor, Md., and in Washington D.C., hosting runners from all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Deployed locations can host the marathon as well.
Participants of different skill levels can register to complete this marathon.
“I’ve always heard great things about the Marine Corps Marathon, so with this being my first deployment—and I’m in the Marine Corps—I thought why not make this my first marathon,” said Lance Cpl. Kaitlyn Alvey, 727nd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. “It was a good time. I got to talk to other runners from other services and enjoyed the experience.”
Race participants received medals from Marines after completing the event. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alfredo Laboy finished first for the men and U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Heather Judy finished first for the women.
“I’m 47 years old and couldn’t imagine doing anything like this,” said Lt. Col. Alfredo Laboy, 380th Expeditionary Mission Support Group deputy commander. “I wanted my first marathon to be the Air Force Marathon, since I’m an Airmen, and then wanted to do the next one. I just didn’t know the next one would be here. This is the first United States Central Command base to put on a Marine Corps Marathon and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Thanks to the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, deployed runners were able to participate in this time-honored tradition.
“I’ve been running marathons for about 20 years,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Heather Judy, 727nd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. “But this is my first one in a deployed location. I feel very privileged, I think it’s awesome they held this marathon here and I can’t thank the volunteers enough. It’s a great opportunity for people to see and participate in this marathon because it’s such a tradition for us. It’s a rite of passage.”