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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

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Global, local racers rock marathon, finish at depot

By Cpl. Jess Levens | | June 05, 2005

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- More than 18,000 people from around the world ran the annual San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, which finished at the depot June 5 for the fifth consecutive year.

The epic race started in historic Balboa Park after some tunes from Marine Band San Diego and ended 26.2 miles later on Shepherd Memorial Drill field. More than 30,000 people entered the depot gates to cheer on runners, and hundreds visited James L. Day Hall, the depot museum.

Once the bullhorn sounded, a dozen or so elite runners rocketed ahead at a pace less than five minutes per mile. Young cheerleaders and enthusiastic spectators lined the streets and cheered the runners on the whole way. About halfway through the course, the elite pack thinned out.

Christopher Cheboiboch, a 28-year-old from Kenya, won the race. He finished at 2:09:17 - a pace of 4:56 per mile. Stephen Kiogora and Benson Cherono, both Kenyans, took second and third place respectively.

On the ladies' side, Ethiopian Gete Wami took the gold with a time of 2:30:55. Ethiopian Elfenesh Alemu and Kenyan Hellen Kimutai finished second and third.

After the race, sponsors awarded the first-place winners $20,000 each, a gold record trophy and a Gibson guitar.

For the amateur runners, the race was a foot tour of San Diego. The course winds through Balboa Park, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Local rock bands played every few miles to motivate runners and entertain fans.

Marathons are grueling, and some runners were out to beat personal records while other just ran to finish.

"This was my first marathon," said Cpl. Yuri Schneider, a depot combat illustrator. "I've always said I wanted to run a marathon, and I finally did it."

An emotional tornado whirled at the finish line - joyous triumph mixed with pain and pure exhaustion. Runners crossed the line holding hands, jumping and raising arms in victory. Some embraced loved ones, and others let out mighty screams of accomplishment. A few steps past the finish line, many happy expressions turned into grimaces and winces from chafed skin and fiery feet. The champions - 17,113 runners - slowly walked away to recuperate.

"I felt OK after the race," said Schneider, whose time was just past five hours. "I paced myself because this was my first run like this. Different muscles hurt at different times, but I'm happy I finished it."

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