Running the Boston Marathon can be a punishing but uplifting experience. And now Micah Herndon can talk about that experience firsthand.
Herndon, an Ohio native, ran the marathon on Monday, but his body began to give out as he approached the finish. With just a few feet left, he fell to the ground, unable to get up.
But he didn’t give up. Herndon decided to crawl the final feet of the race, crossing the finish line on his hands and knees.
Herndon knows a lot about not giving up. According to the Record-Courier, Herndon was injured during an improvised explosive device attack during his tour in Afghanistan in 2010. He was at his vehicle’s gun turret, and the impact of the device shoved him against the back wall of the car, knocking him unconscious.
But that’s only part of Herndon’s story. He also told the Record-Courier that he runs to help deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder he has from his tour in Afghanistan, and to help him honor and remember three comrades that were killed in a related IED attack. Mark Juarez and Matthew Ballard, two of Herndon’s best friends and fellow Marines, and British journalist Rupert Hamer, all perished in the attack.
After Herndon returned home, he struggled with adapting to a normal, non-combat life. He began running a few miles a day and gradually increased, enjoying the adrenaline rush. But he also used it as a way to process the deaths of Juarez, Ballard, and Hamer, and honor the sacrifice they all made. From the Record-Courier:
“I run in honor of them,” Herndon said. “They are not here anymore. I am here, and I am able. I am lucky to still have all my limbs. I can still be active. I find fuel in the simple idea that I can run. Some cannot.
“I feel like if I am not running, then I am doing something wrong with my life,” Herndon said. “If I get a heat cramp while running or my feet hurt or I am getting exhausted, I just keep saying their names out loud to myself. They went through much worse, so I run for them and their families.”
Herndon repeats their last names as he runs, and he ignores the looks of other runners who hear him as he passes.
The Boston Marathon was Herndon’s very first marathon. Even with his difficulties at the end, he finished with a time of 3:38. He showed tremendous strength in reaching the finish line, but he wasn’t doing it for himself. He was doing it for Juarez, Ballard, and Hamer, and he carried their spirit with him over the finish line.
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