MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Four recovering wounded warrior Marines who were injured in combat operations cope with their disabilities by rising above their new limitations and competing in marathons.
Sergeants Chad Carter and Chris Chandler, and Cpls. Robert Pratt and Matt Dominguez, Marine Medical Rehabilitation Platoon, Headquarters and Service Battalion, have taken to the sport to continue their healing process.
On Oct. 28 in Washington D. C. Chandler, who is a below-knee amputee, ran the Marine Corps Marathon on a prosthetic leg. It was the first time he had raced in a marathon since sustaining his injury in 2001 in Afghanistan.
Carter, Pratt and Dominguez competed in the hand-cranked cycle category in the New York City Marathon Oct. 4, which took them on a 26.2-mile course through the diverse neighborhoods of New York City’s five boroughs.
“I like doing marathons because they keep me active and focused on something,” said Carter, a 28-year old native of Williamsburg, Iowa, whose back was broken his back while serving with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Iraq in 2003.
Carter, who crossed the finish line in Manhattan’s Central Park in 3 hours, 36 minutes and 24 seconds, said the time he spends competing and training for races, takes his mind off his injury.
“It’s a really self-satisfying feeling knowing I can complete a marathon,” said Carter, who set a goal of finishing a marathon in under three hours.
Since Carter arrived at Naval Medical Center San Diego nearly four years ago, he has participated in four marathons throughout the United States as a member of the Achilles Freedom Team.
The team was founded by the Achilles Track Club vice president, Mary Bryant, in 2004, with the intent of helping wounded service members’ recovery by giving them a challenge. Soon after the team’s creation, Bryant began recruiting wounded warriors to compete with the team in several marathons held across the country.
“This allows me to still be competitive although I can’t run,” said Dominguez, a native of Trinidad, Colo., who sustained a leg injury from an improvised explosive device attack while on patrol in Haditha, Iraq.
The four Marines plan to compete and complete their next race which will be the Las Vegas Marathon Sunday.
“As an infantry Marine, I was always trying to finish first or be the leader,” said Dominquez. “Racing helps me find that competitive rush.”