Military women sweep top finishing spots at Marine Corps Marathon
Stars and Stripes
ARLINGTON — Military women swept the top three spots in the female division of the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, while the male winner of the race ran to spotlight two major issues facing the military today.
Girma Bedada, 33, was first to finish the men's race with a time of 2:21:32 as part of Team I Run 4 God (IR4G) and Team McGraw. Team IR4G, coached by a retired Army lieutenant colonel, was campaigning this year to bring awareness to military sexual trauma. Team McGraw, highlighting post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, honors the late Tug McGraw, a major league baseball pitcher and former Marine.
“Military sexual trauma hasn’t really been dealt with or out in the open, because when you’re active duty and you go through it, you don’t usually say anything because of repercussions,” said Lt. Col. (Ret.) Sue Bozgoz, coach of IR4G. “There’s so many women who are coming from the foxhole … and what’s happening is they’re not being understood. It’s important we understand their silent scars and what they’re going through.”
The 38th annual marathon drew nearly 30,000 participants to the 26.2-mile route through Virginia and Washington, D.C. Bedada was a favorite going into the race, and quickly pulled away from the rest of the pack.
“He just started fast from the beginning and never looked back,” Bozgoz said.
Placing first in the women’s division was Army Capt. Kelly Calway, who finished with a time of 2:42:16 just one week after she became the first military female across the finish line at the Army 10-Miler.
Having the U.S. military’s females claim the top three spots was a triumph, said Calway, who will be deploying to Kuwait in a few weeks.
“For us to take the top three in the race overall, it’s really cool,” Calway said. “We’ve got some amazing military female athletes, and it’s nice to have it on display in front of everyone. It’s humbling to be the first of all of them, because they’re all really great ladies.”
Navy Lt. Gina Slaby came in second at 2:48:04, and Air Force Airman 1st Class Emily Shertzer finished with a time of 2:48:08.
Slaby, who has run the race for four years, said she could not remember when the military’s women swept the top spots.
“It’s great that we got all Army, Air Force and Navy represented,” Slaby said.
Lt. Patrick Fernandez of the Coast Guard was the second male to cross the finish line with a time of 2:22:52, a personal best for the 26-year-old from Alexandria, Va. Fernandez, who is part of the All-Navy team, said he felt the weight of representing both services.
“I’m really proud to be representing two services today ... because I always liked the idea of running something for greater than myself,” Fernandez said. “It’s really gratifying to know … that you can help embody the hard work that they do every day. I couldn’t be prouder to finish strong for them.”
Coming in third was Richard Morris of Burkeville, Va., with a time of 2:24:02.