View Full Version : Boston Marathon - Marine Style

04-28-03, 07:37 PM
Marine Corps
Capt. Steve Hahn

Boston Marathon - Marine Style

By U.S. Army Sgt. Jacques-René Hébert
Marine Forces Central Command

UMM QASR, Iraq, April 21, 2002 — When Marine Corps Capt. Steve Hahn applied for entrance into the 2003 Boston Marathon, he had no idea that he would be miles away, deployed to a small town in the southern desert of Iraq, working to help rebuild a country. Indeed, when April 21 came around, it appeared that Hahn's hopes of running the legendary marathon had come to an end. But after some internal deliberation, he decided that if he couldn't run Boston's marathon, he would run his own.

Hahn, a Colonial Heights, Va. native, is currently attached to the Office of Reconstruction and Human Assistance: Southern Region, a coalition effort to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq and to help restore control of Iraq to the Iraqi people.

"To simplify it, I didn't want Saddam to get the best of me," Hahn said. "It was his fault that I had to miss my first Boston Marathon. Saddam had already lost his big battle - I wasn't going to let him win this one.

"Plus, it was just something to do in my off-time."

Hahn measured out a 5.8-kilometer track and did a little math. Seven and one quarter times around would put him roughly at the marathon length of 26.2 miles. However, measuring the course was only the first step to preparing for his run. Hahn explained, to run a distance of this magnitude, it takes a little bit more work than to "just do it."

"I had been running on a pretty regular basis, doing work ups for the real deal," he said. "But because of the work load here, I just haven't had the time to train the right way, doing my carbohydrate loads and my training runs."

At 110 degrees on an April afternoon, training for a marathon is a difficult endeavor, Hahn later explained. Prime running conditions are early morning and evening, when the sun is but a sliver in the sky and the desert winds race across the sand to cool the brow. Fortunately for Hahn, his marathon would begin shortly after the sun slipped below the western horizon.

At 8:30 p.m., simultaneous start time as the Boston Marathon across the globe, Hahn began his own Boston Marathon, the first unofficial marathon run in a "free Iraq."

Mile after mile, Hahn's feet pounded the asphalt, running a race pitting man versus himself - or so he thought. As he began his race, an SUV with a flashing blue light pulled up behind him to ensure his safety throughout the run. On his fourth lap, as miles started to wear on his body, his fellow Marines joined him to give him some extra motivation to complete his marathon mission.

"The intangibles in a marathon that help you get through it - the excitement of the crowd, the intensity of the other runners - all

the things missing from this run, were more than compensated by my fellow Marines, some of which I had known for less than a week, running with me and standing by to help me out with water and emotional support," he said with a smile. "What I thought would be a long, painful run really turned into a motivating experience I'll never forget. The only difference is that there's no t-shirt at the end of this race."

When it was all said and done, Hahn finished his "Boston Marathon" in roughly three and a half hours. He said later that his goal wasn't to run the fastest marathon he could, since the next day, he had to return to work, business as usual.

"In the past, I've really killed myself over a race," he said. "This run was different. There was no need to burn myself out over it. The running of the marathon itself was what counted. Not to mention, taxpayers sent me out here to fight a war, not run races."

Since 1996, Hahn has been serving his country as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Though he thinks his marathon pales in comparison to the efforts of U.S. and coalition forces in battle, and the sacrifices the Iraqi people have made, his fellow service members believe he is a credit to his service and his country.

"The determination Steve displayed in running the Umm Qasr, Iraq version of the Boston Marathon, is the very determination we need to rebuild this country," stated retired Army Brig. Gen. Buck Walters, director of ORHA South.

As for Hahn, he is excited about the possibility of going home soon, though he has valued his experiences in the desert of Iraq.

"Everyone is here (Iraq), both coalition forces and U.S. forces," Hahn explained. "We all want this to be over so we can get on with our lives. Though I'm still out here doing my job, I decided that running this race anyway would be my first step in getting on with my own life."




U.S. Marine Capt. Steve Hahn chases down the miles in his Iraqi version of the Boston Marathon, April 21, in Umm Qasr, Iraq. Due to his deployment to the region, Hahn was unable to attend this year's marathon, though he commemorated the event by running 26.2 miles through the Iraqi desert. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jacques-René Hébert

05-02-03, 09:13 AM
I forwarded this article to a friend of mine that runs the Boston Marathon every year. She in turn sent it to the Boston Marathon Commitee to see if they can get him a shirt and certificate of completion. That would be cool.....he is just too dedicated not to.

05-02-03, 11:34 AM
Originally posted by ladileathrnek
I forwarded this article to a friend of mine that runs the Boston Marathon every year. She in turn sent it to the Boston Marathon Commitee to see if they can get him a shirt and certificate of completion. That would be cool.....he is just too dedicated not to.

When Marines cover the 6 of another Marine.:)

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Semper Fidelis, Marine!!!