On January 31st, Naval Academy midshipmen John McDonough, Stephen Honan, and Blaine Tonking will start the 135 mile Arrowhead Ultramarathon. To put this in perspective, 135 miles is equivalent to 5 marathons or the distance between Washington, DC and Philadelphia. However, if running 135 miles isn’t challenging enough, the temperatures at the snowy northern Minnesota race course routinely reach -40 ⁰F. And, by the way, you have to finish in less than 60 hours.
These midshipmen, beyond peak physical condition, have already finished other shorter (though shorter is a relative term here) ultramarathons such as the JFK 50 miler and the MOAB 100 miler. All three are members of the Naval Academy marathon team, and all hope to service select SpecOps or SpecWar.
The race is so long that the race directors require each participant to have at least 3000 calories of food and a sleeping bag rated for -20 ⁰F on them at all times. Because of the terrain, many participants choose to tow this gear on sleds.
Why are they doing this? Besides testing themselves physically and mentally, they hope to raise $30,000 for the Special Operations Warriors Fund (SOWF) by running.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation mission is devoted to providing a college education to every child who has lost a parent while serving in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations during an operational or training mission.
The Warrior Foundation is currently committed to providing scholarship grants to more than 760 children. These children survive over 600 Special Operations personnel who gave their lives in patriotic service to their country, including those who died fighting our nation’s war against terrorism as part of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan and the Philippines as well as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” To date, 143 children of fallen special operations warriors have graduated from college.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation also provides immediate financial assistance to special operations personnel severely wounded in the global war on terror. Once notified of a special operations soldier, airman, sailor or Marine hospitalized with a severe injury, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation immediately sends funds to the service member (or his/her designated recipient) so the family and loved ones can immediately travel to be bedside.
The rest of us now have no room to complain about a measly 1.5 mile long run.
To read more about these incredible future officers: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/john-mcdonough-2/arrowhead2011