Portland, ME - Up before the sun, twenty cadets from USM Army ROTC boarded a school bus with members from the National Guard, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines.
A crack from the cannon marked the start of the Maine Marathon road march. Friendly banter between the ranks quickly started as the formation reached the first mile. Jokes and stories were told as the group looked across Back-Bay Cove at the shimmering lights reflected off the water from Portland. Some stories however, were told in remembrance of fallen service members. Buttons pinned on rucksacks stood out against the camouflage of each pack. Each button represented a different service member from Maine that had lost their life in the line of duty. Many of the service members knew a friend that paid the ultimate sacrifice and were completing the marathon in their memory.
Halfway through the march, rain descended upon the formation. Undeterred by the elements, the formation continued on with the marathon. Around mile 8, the group was passed by the winner of the regular marathon. Eventually, numerous runners started passing the formation. Pleasantries were exchanged from walkers, runners and spectators. Volunteers offered water, Gatorade and oranges along the route. The formation, motivated by everyone kept a feverish pace to meet the end time of 2:00pm.
After walking from 5:30am to 2:00pm, the formation finally reached the finish line. Smiles and a quick photo-op marked the end of a great event organized by the National Guard and the Maine Marathon officials. USM Army ROTC would like to thank everyone at the Maine Marathon as well as SFC Timothy MacArthur for coordinating this event.