Matt Smith, president of the Catholic Advocate, ran his first Marine Corps Marathon with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, and said to CNA Oct. 28 that it “was a great experience,” and it was “rewarding” to do “so as part of Team AMS, knowing you are helping their ministry.”
“I had tried to enter the race when the general sign ups opened and was unsuccessful,” Smith said, explaining how he joined the archdiocese’s team.
“Then, when I saw the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA listed as a charity partner, I knew it was meant to be to run the race and help their efforts on behalf of our service members and veterans.”
The Marine Corps Marathon, also known as “The People’s Marathon,” is the fourth largest annual marathon in the United States, and the largest marathon in the world that does not offer prize money.
The race started in 1976 with 1,175 runners, in order to raise awareness and support for the Marine Corps and to help Marines living near Washington, D.C. qualify for the Boston Marathon.
This is the first year that the archdiocese has joined the race as a charity partner, allowing runners to raise money for the archdiocese.
By doing so, the Archdiocese for the Military Services raised $26,155 to support its ministries and to raise awareness among the public for its mission. The runners for the archdiocese included archdiocesan staff members, military chaplains, seminarians, military personnel, and civilians.
In the nearly 40 years since the Marine Marathon’s beginning, the race has grown into the ninth largest marathon in the world, with over 23,480 participants in the 2013 race - including 100 wheelchair and hand cycle participants- according to an Oct. 27 press release.
There was also a simultaneous 10 kilometer race sponsored by the Marine Corps Marathon.
The marathon course begins near Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon in northern Virginia, travelling into Washington, D.C, where it loops through parks and around the city’s national monuments including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Washington Monument.
Afterward, the race crosses back to Virginia, around the Pentagon and 9/11 Memorial and ending at the Marine Corps War Memorial.
U.S. Army Captain James Hickman, a seminarian and a West Point graduate, ran the race in order to “personally contribute to the cause” of the archdiocese, he explained in an Oct. 24 press release before the race.
Hickman explained that by running, he is “raising money and awareness for a cause centered directly on Christ.”
He also explained that he sees the spiritual side of marathon training as well. Hickman said he views the marathon training process as “an opportunity to offer sacrifice on behalf of the AMS,” and explained that “each painful training run” was “offered for the souls in need,” and “each runner’s high” was “a reminder of my joy as a Christian man who has been redeemed by our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, head of the military archdiocese, has been very supportive of the members and supporters of the archdiocese participating in the marathon. He has filled in at Mass for priests who were running in the marathon, and following the 2013 race, he congratulated and thanked those who organized the team for “their efforts in raising enthusiasm, attending to hundreds of details, and making everything a success.”
“Heartfelt congratulations are due to Team AMS for successfully completing the Marine Corps Marathon!” the archbishop said in a press release.
“To all of Team AMS, I congratulate you for surpassing your goal,” he added.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services is responsible for the pastoral care of the nearly two million Catholics who serve in the United States Armed Forces, are enrolled in military academies, or are patients in VA hospitals and medical centers, as well as their families and United States civilian government personnel deployed overseas.
As tens of thousands of runners crossed the finish line in the Oct. 27 Marine Corps Marathon, 24 participants completed the race having raised over $25,000 for the Archdiocese for Military Services.