​Surprise! MCM Home Deliveries Presented by Hyundai

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The Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) staff surprised five local runners earlier this month when the team delivered event day supplies and other goodies in person. Packages contained a case of Gatorade, water, HoneyStinger, mask, hand sanitizer, lip balm, stickers, love handles, pompoms and foam hands for cheering, a Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) book and a Brooks gift card.

The lucky recipients ranged from veteran MCM runners to first-timers with inspiring and interesting stories.

Brandon Graver – First Marathon after Beating Cancer

Brandon Graver started running to impress his then girlfriend, now wife. The night after she finished her first half marathon, he wrote her a letter saying how inspired he was and that he would run a marathon with her next year.

“She told me no, that she was tapping out at 13.1, but now she had it in writing that I was going to run 26.2 miles, so I had to keep my word,” said Graver, who completed his first marathon in 2013 and went on to complete seven more since then.

When Graver and his family moved to Northern Virginia last November, he made it a mission to run the MCM. “I have heard nothing but great things about “The People’s Marathon” from members of the running community,” he said. So, he registered for the Marine Corps 17.75K to earn a guaranteed spot in the 45th MCM and then 2020 had other plans.

“Shortly after, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and a surgery date was quickly set in order to receive treatment before the COVID pandemic really ramped up,” said Graver. “The 17.75K going virtual allowed me to complete my run prior to surgery and I signed up for the MCM as soon as the registration window opened, giving me something to look forward to while still recovering.”

Graver counts himself lucky and blessed with a supportive running community. “I caught my cancer early and only needed surgery for treatment. My follow-up scans all come back clear, so chemotherapy hasn't been necessary. I was able to lace up again after four weeks and one day, which happened to be my birthday.”

With his course already set, Graver is ready to complete his first MCM on October 24. “I have downloaded the Motigo app to provide me with more of the event day experience, but what I'm really looking forward to is my almost 2-year-old daughter cheering me on at the finish line and placing the medal around my neck. Not a Marine, but a great alternative!”

Becky Buchanan – Running First Marathon While Undergoing Chemo

For Becky Buchanan, her mysterious health issues started over a year ago. After a preliminary diagnosis in April 2020, it wasn’t until July that she was officially diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer that develops in the bone marrow.

“I had already set a goal to do the Distinguished Participant Challenge in 2020 with the intent of going for the MCM in 2021,” said Buchanan who completed her first half marathon, the virtual Historic Half in May, as well as the Belleau Wood 8K and Quantico 12K and plans to run the Turkey Trot 10K this November. “When the announcement came out that MCM was going to have a virtual option with no time limits, I knew that this was the exact way for me to look my cancer in the face and tell it that it could not take away my drive, my desire to achieve goals in spite of hardship, or to beat me.”

Buchanan had already started training for the marathon when she received her official diagnosis, but was advised to modify her training plan, to keep the risk of fractures to a minimum. This also meant taking precautions for the marathon, which she plans to complete on November 7 with the support of her small running group.

“I'm both excited and terrified,” said Buchanan. “It's a lot of pressure, especially now that I know there's a group that will be standing by to push me if I need it. I haven't done as many long runs as I'd like, and I've had to shift from planning to run the entire thing to running what I can, walking what I can, and then allowing myself to be pushed in a cart if my body give out. Either way, no matter what, I will complete it.”

Buchanan is currently undergoing chemotherapy and preparing for stem cell transplant and hopes to run the MCM next year.

Chris Messina – Running W&OD Trail

Chris Messina is set to run his 8th MCM on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) on November 1.

A veteran MCM runner, Messina admits to feeling a sense of pride when he runs with the Marines and while he may not be able to do that in person this year, he can still support the Organization, while staying active.

“By signing up, it gave me a goal to attain in a world where a lot of activities have been put on hold,” said Messina. “I may sound crazy, but aside from the race itself, I enjoy the training. I enjoy getting out there and running alone with just me and my thoughts, like a form of meditation.”

Used to the excitement of the crowds and Marines along the official MCM route in Washington DC and Arlington, Messina expects this year’s virtual event to be challenging, but with support from his wife and two children, he knows he will finish.

“I don't know if I could have run my first marathon on my own, so hats off to all the first-time marathoners,” said Messina who is looking forward to using the opportunity to explore new sections of the W&OD. “My best advice would be to remember to just put one foot in front of the other and keep going no matter what. Don't worry about time, don't worry about speed. A first marathon will be a personal record and you should be proud of the accomplishment.”

Joey Miranda – First Marathon

For Joey Miranda, it was actually the virtual aspect that finally gave her the push to register for her first marathon.

“Completing it virtually has actually relieved a lot of nerves for me,” said Miranda. “The intimidation of the elite athletes and those that are familiar and comfortable with a marathon distance isn't there and that is a little encouraging for a newbie like me.”

A Civilian Marine for nearly 18 years, Miranda said she always knew if she ever planned to run a marathon, it would be the MCM. She just wasn’t sure if she could manage the distance.

“The most surprising thing about my training is that the distances aren't as difficult as I thought they would be,” said Miranda who is running on November 9. “I have run many half marathons and never even considered that I could run further.”

Her goal is to just finish strong and injury-free.

Rosemary Spraker – Daughter of Marine

Rosemary Spraker is taking on the MCM Trifecta – completing all three MCM Weekend events including the marathon, 50K & 10K – in memory of her dad Marine Cpl Howard Whipple who passed away 21 years ago.

“I am also running in my mom’s honor as I know what it’s like to serve as a military spouse,” said Spraker who is also completing the MCM’s Semper Fidelis challenge, which requires runners to complete the Marine Corps Historic Half or Devil Dog Double in Spring and the MCM or MCM50K in Fall. “My husband is a retired Air force pilot and one of my biggest supporters. He and my two sons and daughter-in-law are all members of the 261 Fearless Charity Team MCM 2020, as well as my six sisters.”

An avid marathoner, Spraker is sharing the MCM virtual experience with the 261 Fearless Charity Team to support the non-profit founded by Kathrine Switzer to empower women around the world through running. The team will be running a

“Part of being FEARLESS is trying new challenges such as the MCM Trifecta,” said Spraker. “I registered as soon as I heard about it. I later found out that two of my 261 Fearless teammates registered as well. Running with my 261 Fearless Club DC Metro cofounder, Rita Cheng and having our 261 Fearless club members and family to support and cheer for us made the 50K accomplishment extra special.”

With the MCM50K and her first ultra already under her belt, Spraker and her 261 Fearless teammates will be running the marathon and 10K distances on October 23 and October 25 and kicking off their celebrations at the MCM finish line, the United States Marine Corps War Memorial.