MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA. --
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – While most people are fast asleep, an alarm blares through a room at 4:30 a.m. A man rises out of bed and sinks into his running shoes. Before the birds are chirping and while darkness still covers the outside with the exception of the occasional streetlight, the only sound to be heard is the thud of his shoes hitting the concrete for hours on end. It’s no easy task to train like this, but for a marathon runner, it becomes a part of the daily routine.
Marines are accustomed to this running lifestyle; fitness is constantly assessed through countless training sessions and annual fitness tests. Few however, take it upon themselves to go the extra mile and challenge their bodies and minds through long distance races.
Master Sgt. Michael T. Condon, procurement chief, Quantico Regional Contracting Office, is one of the few. At the age of 38, he decided to act on his life-long goal of completing a marathon, and signed up for the 47th Marine Corps Marathon.
“I always had it in my mind and heart to run a marathon but years and years have gone by, and I never stuck to the commitment of actually running one,” said Condon, “so finally doing it means a lot to me.”
Since Nov. 7, 1976, the Marine Corps Marathon has been hosted annually in Arlington, Virginia. The course starts and finishes in Arlington and goes through the National Mall and Georgetown in Washington D.C., offering runners the experience to see the Nation’s most recognizable landmarks while being supported by the men and women of the United States Marine Corps.
Leading up to his longest race yet, Condon has competed in many endurance sports throughout his upbringing and military career, showing his persistence and desire to continually better himself.
“I enjoy the mental aspect of it. It’s not until you put yourself in those situations that you realize how much more you can push yourself,” said Condon. “Pushing past what your body’s telling your head.”
Furthermore, Condon’s choice to go above and beyond physically has the ability to inspire his fellow Marines, molding a better future for the Marine Corps as a whole.
“I think that running marathons or just challenging yourself physically sets a good example for others to follow,” said Condon.
Not only does Condon believe in bettering yourself physically, he believes in improving yourself as a leader. He recognizes that good leadership is essential to completing the missions of the Marine Corps and strives to be the best leader he can be.
“I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 11 years and in those 11 years, he’s the best master sergeant I’ve seen in the Marine Corps,” said Gunnery Sgt. Nestor Gomezbello, operational contract support specialist, Quantico Regional Contracting Office. “He’s authentic, he’s not your typical master sergeant who just goes ‘rah rah’ to everything. He uses critical thinking and he’s always open to new ideas.”
In 2006, when Condon was thinking about joining the military, he looked at what each of the different military branches had to offer, and he knew even then, that he wanted to develop his leadership abilities.
“The leadership qualities in Marines stood out to me, so that’s kind of why I chose the Marine Corps over any other branch,” said Condon. “The Marine Corps really prides itself on its leaders.”
On top of being in the Marine Corps for 16 years and rising to the rank of master sergeant through hard work and commendable service, he has also been married since he joined and now has a family; a family who he hopes to instill some of the values he learned from the Marine Corps.
“I have three daughters who will see me cross the finish line, and maybe it’ll inspire them to push through the goals they set for themselves,” said Condon.
In preparation for the marathon, he’ll run about three days a week. On Mondays he runs shorter distances with his platoon, Wednesdays he will run medium distances of five to eight miles, and Fridays are reserved for long distance runs pushing upwards of 15 miles. Running for long periods of time can have negative effects on the body, causing injuries, and are very common amongst runners.
“Another challenge I’ve recently started experiencing is my IT [iliotibial] band because I’ve been feeling a lot of pain in my left knee. It will really be a challenge doing the marathon if I have the pain I’ve been feeling in my IT band, then oh-my-gosh, that will really come down to the mental aspect.”
With the mentality he has developed throughout his life, and his commitment to achieving his goals for himself and for others to follow in his footsteps, Condon isn’t worried about not finishing the race or falling out. To him it’s just a matter of doing it.
“I just cross my fingers for a beautiful day and hope it’s not raining or super hot, but if it is, it is what it is,” said Condon, “you just take those challenges as they come.”