For many of his weekend walks, 1SG has invited the whole company along by posting flyers in advance for a “1SG Volksmarch”. Anyone interested meets up in the company area on Saturday morning and carpools to the start of the walk. There everyone completes either the short three-mile or longer six-mile trail. Families and children are always welcome, and it is not a strange sight to see a couple of strollers being pushed along, as well as a dog or two. Hunger pains can be assuaged easily along the way with bratwurst, cheese-bread, sweet tea, and beer. Back at the start hall, there is even more to eat, including homemade cake, pies, and authentic German meals. The experience is one of friendship and camaraderie, as well as a great chance to enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise.
Knowing this would be the last organized marathon encouraged maximum participation from the unit. Thirteen Soldiers and one family member willingly woke up early that Saturday morning to meet up and carpool to the start of the march. Four of those Soldiers would be completing their first marathon and adding the final names onto the C Company Marathon Club list.
After filling up on pie and pastries in the start hall, the group set off on the marathon. The trail was minimally muddy, running along single-track in the forest and winding through the German countryside. It seemed the weather would also cooperate, with the temperature about 55 degrees and no rain in sight. One member of the group was riding his bicycle, and kept in touch with everyone as the group spread out along the trail, digging out Gummy Bears, Oreos, and other snacks from his pack at the checkpoints.
Cameras, MP3 players, and some trailside antics helped pass the time along the way. At least, they did until we reached the biggest hill (or maybe small mountain), that 1SG said he had ever climbed on a marathon. With four hours of walking already under our belts, it seemed insurmountable. We all hoped that the trail would go around it, not up…but up it went, and with one foot in front of another, we slowly made our way to the summit. Everyone gathered together at the top for more snacks, and a few bravely climbed the lookout tower (did they really want to get higher?). Others bouldered on the rocks, and some removed shoes and socks to rest aching feet.
With yet a couple of hours left to walk, the aches and pains were setting in for everyone, and the Gummy Bears were in high demand. But the trail started heading downhill, and the dreams of bratwurst and beer kept our feet moving. 1SG said that he was focused on the marathon prize, which included a certificate and a patch. We all found our own motivations, and rolled back into the start hall at a time of eight hours flat. Not too fast, perhaps, but all fourteen people finished; and along the way, we shared stories, made friends, and wondered what life would be like without another marathon to look forward to. And yes, the beer at the start hall was worth every step.
Congratulations on #100, 1SG, and good luck after retirement!