MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Members of the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point community gathered at the starting line, at 7:25 a.m. Saturday morning, to watch a group of wounded warriors jump start the 12th annual Cherry Point Half Marathon at Sunset Park.
This was the first time wounded warriors riding in crank-style wheelchairs competed in this event.
“I love running,” laughed David Swaim, the first of the crank-style wheelchair racers to start the race. “It doesn’t matter if I finish first or 31st, I love to compete.”
Swaim is a part of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Cycling team.
“I’ve gone around to a lot of the wounded warrior battalions to speak with these young warriors,” said Swaim. “I tell them all that no matter what injury they have they can still get out and compete in some form or another.”
Swaim crossed the finished line first, but he was disqualified for missing a turn that cut nearly a mile off the course, which allowed one of the younger racers Bull Ramsey, to take home the first-place trophy, finishing the 13-mile race in 51 minutes, 49 seconds.
“It’s nice to see the young guys out on the course and having fun,” said Swaim. “This is an outstanding course and very smooth. A great place for rookie racers to start racing.”
Bernadine Crosby, the organizer of the event, was approached by Paul Kelly, another member of the crank-style wheelchair community and asked if there could be a wheelchair division within this year’s Cherry Point half marathon.
“I thought it would be an excellent idea,” said Crosby. “It was nice to be able to unite everyone together. I also wanted to embrace wounded warriors and their families with honor for giving the sacrifices they made to keep us safe.”
On the second start, the racers who were on foot shot off en masse.
“It is important for Marines and Sailors to stay in shape,” said Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis, the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. “Not to mention as a person who is trying to stay in shape, training for an event like this will help.”
Davis has competed in seven marathons and this was his first half marathon, which he finished with a time of 1:47.17 to place second in the 50-54 age group.
“I raced in the Marine Corps Marathon seven times, and they conduct those races with the crank wheelchair racers,” said Davis. “I think all of our races here on Cherry Point should involve the wheel chair division. It is a great opportunity for younger Marines to meet these past service members who sacrificed parts of their bodies for their country. These are true heroes here, and I have great pride running this race with them.”
Davis said when he participates in events like this he is driven to do better and push himself.
“In races like this, everyone motivates each other to keep going,” said Davis, “I do this to better myself. I push others, so they push me.”