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Army November 20, 2014
A marathon effort in
Cpl Mark Doran
FIVE wounded, injured or ill sol-
diers joined close to 30,000 people
in the 39th annual Marine Corps
Marathon (MCM) in Washington
DC on October 26.
During the 42km race, known as
the People’s Marathon, they were sup-
ported by seven other soldiers who
formed the Australian Army team.
The MCM starts in Arlington,
crosses into Georgetown and across
the National Mall before passing the
Washington Monument and ending at
the Iwo Jima Memorial.
This year the race attracted many
disabled veterans and more than
100 wheelchair and hand-cyclist
competitors in the race.
For team manager WO1 Gary
Pattrick, of DGPers-A, and Cpl
Cristine Ashcroft, of APAC-Syd, the
2014 MCC was their 103rd marathon.
WO1 Pattrick said being a part of
the team opened his eyes to the Army
Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill
Program (SWIIP) and taught him a lot
about the people involved in it.
“A couple of our guys were
dealing with the effects of IED blast
injuries and for them to be a part of
this team has done wonders for their
rehabilitation,” WO1 Pattrick said.
“They opened up over the 10 days
we were here and the MCM gave
them a chance to meet other wounded
warriors including Brits, Danes and
“The course is world class, though
no prize money is offered, and nearly
every marine from Marine Corps Base
Quantico was involved in the MCM as
they either ran or supported the race.
“It was an absolutely incredible
event and shows how we can support
our wounded warriors.”
SWIIP was established in 2008
to support the health and welfare
of soldiers, regardless of how they
were physically or psychologically
wounded, injured or became ill.
The MCM partnered with other
charity organisations, including the
Allied Forces Foundation, which
support military personnel and their
Cpl Ashcroft loves marathons and
said one of the main reasons she ran in
the MCM was to be with like-minded
“I have PTSD and suffered a
severe shoulder injury from my 2010
deployment to Afghanistan,” Cpl
“People can’t see PTSD, but every
day is a struggle. I was terrified by
the thought of going to Washington
and leaving my comfort zone, but the
Australian team gelled, they were an
amazing group of people, and we all
learnt a lot about ourselves.
“I have made friends for life. The
support crew I ran with did not leave
my side as I have trouble with large
crowds, but we were treated with so
much respect I felt safe the whole
“The trip to the US gave me a lot
more confidence in myself and I hope
I can be involved in the next MCM or
the Invictus Games.”
Bdr Mitchell Hancock, of 4 Regt
RAA, was wounded during his deploy-
ment to Afghanistan with Mentoring
Task Force 4 in 2012.
Along with PTSD, his blast wounds
from an IED include a mild traumatic
brain injury, hearing loss and facial,
dental and back injuries.
In the three months of preparation,
Bdr Hancock went from not running at
all to running the marathon distance.
“The MCM was an emotional
race,” he said.
“The people of Washington DC
were amazing in the way they support-
ed the troops. The crowd was packed
three people deep for the 42km.
“When I hit the wall at about half-
way their support was inspirational
and helped me drive through.”
The marathon was also special for
Bdr Hancock because he enlisted just
“When I crossed the Potomac River
and saw the Pentagon it helped spur
me on to finish the race and reminded
me why I joined the Army,” he said.
of SWIIP because I get to meet people
who have been through what I have
“Even though we may not know
each other, we can easily connect with
each other and talk about anything.
“I also joined Brig Cheryl Pearce,
of AHQ, at a function in Washington
DC, held by the Semper Fi Fund,
where I met many wounded warriors
and the Medal of Honour recipient
Bdr Hancock is continuing his
rehabilitation at the Soldier Recovery
Centre in Townsville.
Runners put their bodies to the test on the streets of Washington for Marine Corps Marathon
From left, Maj
Hancock, Sgt Tania
Milligan and WO2
Steve Abbott after
the Marine Corps
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