A Mason student veteran runs the 48th Marine Corps Marathon for his first time.
BY KAYLYN BARNHART, CULTURE EDITOR
“Every Marine has Nov. 10 ingrained in their minds since their days in bootcamp. It’s a great day to remember the time served, the friendships made, and just a day of reflection as to what one went through during that era of their life,” Junior Fernando Aguila, a Marine Corps veteran and student at Mason said.
The MCM, also nicknamed “The People’s Marathon”, organized by the Marine Corps Marathon Organization, is one of the largest marathons in the United States with people from all over the country, and world partaking in while recognizing those who have served in the military, past and present. Runners get to experience running 26.2 miles through distinctive sites and landmarks in Northern Virginia and the nation’s capital such as the Pentagon, the National Mall, Georgetown, Crystal City and then crossing the finish line at the Marine Corps Memorial.
Aguila got out of the Marine Corps in April 2021 after four years of service as a mortarman. Shortly after getting out, he dealt with a micro tear in his left achilles tendon and was on crutches for nine months and attended physical therapy.
“After hobbling around and being frustrated with my limited mobility for nine months, I told myself I would never take that [physical mobility] for granted, and started my journey with running,” Aguila said.
And so he did. Aguila had a new zest for life and made it a goal to continue to stay active. He said, “I threw myself into running and fell in love with the community and the feeling of knowing I am putting good miles into my soul with each run.”
Since then, Aguila picked up running as a hobby and has completed many races including various half marathons and a Spartan Ultra 50k race.
“Last year, I ran the Marine Corps 10k which takes place during the marathon, and told myself that I would be back for the marathon the following year. I did what I said I was going to do,” Aguila said.
Despite Aguila being a full-time student at Mason, working part-time and expecting a baby at the end of January 2024, he managed to find the time to train for the MCM by running two to three times a week, and also by running five races hosted by the Marine Corps Marathon Organization during this year.
“Throughout this time, I met a plethora of like-minded individuals who have served or are simply other running enthusiasts,” Aguila said.
On the day of the marathon, Aguila stepped foot into an exciting environment. There were more than 23,000 runners on the course, most of whom spent this year training for the MCM and were ready to challenge themselves physically and mentally. He said, “Walking up to the start [line] and hearing the announcer motivate [the runners] before the run added to the ambiance.”
Most runners shared a similar goal that day which was to cross that finish line. Aguila proudly finished the MCM, his first marathon race, with a time of 6:35:25. “I am proud of my time because I set a goal for myself and met it, amidst everything I had going on,” Aguila said. “This was a way to prove to myself that I can set out to dream big for something like this.”
Aguila plans on running the MCM again in the future, and also aspires to run various other marathons held around the world.
“Running the MCM is special, seeing all the Marines present, finishing at the Iwo Jima Memorial and having that eagle, globe and anchor medal put on you after completing the run is an amazing feeling.”