Memorial Marathon - The Bataan Memorial Death March - Running with Miles
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Memorial Marathon – The Bataan Memorial Death March

Written by Charlie

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Today is a very special day for our country – the day that we remember the many men and women who have given their lives in the defense of this great nation. I want to take a moment to recognize all of those brave souls and to thank and honor the families who made that sacrifice. I am so grateful for all of these special people and those that currently are serving in harm’s way even today. While the words do not seem nearly adequate enough to show our deep appreciation, it is the best we have so we say THANK YOU!

The Bataan Memorial Death March

Bataan Memorial Death March

There is a marathon that is appropriate for the memorial of our soldiers. Marathons are a great chance to exercise, meet with others, honor and memorialize people, and many, many other things. But it can be a sobering thing to realize that our soldiers have had to cover the distance of 26.2 miles many times over when in battle – and they do so without Under Armour running gear and the perfect running shoe. In fact, they do it with heavy packs and having to be on the lookout for enemy fire and mines.

Bataan Memorial Death MarchThen there are other marches that were extremely brutal because they were done at the end of a bayonnet and without proper nutrition or care. Such a march was the 80 mile march of prisoners that became known as the Bataan Death March. It began on April 9, 1942 and for days, the American and Filipino prisoners did not receive food or water. The heat was extreme and many died, both at the hands of their captors and because of the conditions of the march.

The Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon does its best to give runners the chance to honor the soldiers that had to take that brutal march through the jungle to face prisons. For those who want to run a race with incredible meaning, this should be that race. It takes place in the desert of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in March. The race gives the opportunity for runners to wear a pack to simulate some of the difficulty that one would endure having to run with gear. Obviously, this does not give the same experience but it does help runners to have a deeper appreciation for the pain that soldiers go through.

Getting There

The nearest airport is the El Paso Airport (ELP). It is about an hour drive to the race site from the airport. American, Delta, and United all fly there. The cost for tickets is not cheap but award availability is plentiful. In the case of Delta, it may not be at the low availability but it does exist. If you are coming from anywhere near Dallas, you can use your British Airways Avios to fly round-trip for 9,000 Avios. Anything else will be 25,000 miles (or more, depending on availability).

All hotels are at least 25 miles away and further. If you want to forego the hotel to make your weekend experience a bit more military, you can stay for free on the base at the Bell Gym. It is first come, first serve, however, so make sure you get there in plenty of time to secure a spot. The Gym opens the Thursday before the race at 1PM for people to claim places.

Race Details

  • Marathon: Bataan Memorial Death March
  • Date: March 22, 2015
  • Time: 7:05AM
  • Place: White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico
  • Races: Full Marathon and Honorary Route of 14.2 miles
  • Cost: Registration will open in mid-November
  • Website: website

The start of this marathon will be unlike any you have ever experienced. It will begin in the following order:

  • Wounded Warriors

  • Civilian Team Heavy, Civilian Team Light, Civilian Individual Heavy, Civilian Individual Light.

  • Military Individual Light, Military and ROTC Team Light, National Guard Team Light, JROTC Light, Military Coed Team Light.

  • Military and Team Heavy, National Guard & ROTC Team Heavy, Military Coed Heavy.

  • Honorary Marchers.

This is still a marathon but is obviously more of a memorial event than your typical race. This marathon has always been on my bucket list and I hope I get to accomplish it one day. My plan would be to do it in the heavy category (which requires a pack that weighs at least 35lbs). This would be a wonderful opportunity to use a marathon to honor and think about the sacrifice and suffering that so many of our soldiers went through. On this Memorial Day, we salute their memory and honor as well as extend our heartfelt thanks to their loved ones.  God bless America!

Bataan Memorial Death March

Photo by Robert R. Ramon

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

4 Comments

  • My great uncle was one of the POW survivors of the Bataan Death March. He spent the rest of WWII in a POW camp in Japan. He survived the war, but tragically died from suicide a few years after his return to California.

    I was a resident of White Sands Missile Range for one year in 1970-71 when I was in 5th/6th grades when my father was serving his third tour in Vietnam.

    I recall to this day how I would stare out the school windows at the Organ Mountains, telling myself this scenery seemed painted. Long hikes into those hills as a tweenager showed me real desert life.

  • On my bucket list to do this. I am surprised that 35 lbs. is considered “heavy.” SOF standard is 55 lbs. What do they consider light?

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