Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Ferdinand Villas stretches before participating in a half marathon aboard USS Makin Island here April 7. The 34-year-old Gilbert, Ariz., native serves as an aircraft mechanic with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced), the aviation combat element with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The unit is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Photo by Sgt. Elyssa Quesada

Marines, sailors run half marathon while deployed

7 Apr 2012 | Sgt. Elyssa Quesada

Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors aboard USS Makin Island participated in a half marathon aboard the ship here April 7.

One hundred and fifty participants ran 45 laps around the 844-foot flight deck to complete 13.1 miles in celebration of completing more than half of the unit’s seagoing deployment.

“We have a lot of fit and health-conscience people on board, and I think a (half marathon) is a great opportunity to celebrate being halfway done with deployment,” said Kristen Venoy, the ship’s recreation specialist.

Runners circled the flight deck as volunteers offered water, orange slices and granola bars at four different stations.

“It’s really honorable to see all these Marines and sailors come out and be able to run together while deployed,” said runner Lance Cpl. Cameron Carter.

Several Marines ran in groups to build camaraderie.

“We physically train as a section regularly, but attempting a half marathon together was unique,” said 1st Lt. Troy MacDonald, the unit’s fiscal officer. “We all knew it would be a challenge, but having the men and women I work with every day out there for encouragement helped keep me determined to finish.”

Supporters cheered and waved signs as hours passed and runners accumulated laps.

“When you see such a large group of Marines and sailors voluntarily participate in something like this, you really know that you’re not alone and that you get to motivate each other,” said MacDonald, a 28-year-old Appleton, Wis., native. “And it’s just plain fun having the chance to run a half marathon on a ship.”

Venoy, who coordinates activities like bingo, karaoke and trivia, said “I hope to see more people at future events, and I encourage people to stay fit, have fun and get home safely to their friends and families.”

The unit is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, currently a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet area of responsibility.


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