Photo Credit: used with permission of Ed Bandas
Most people who live in central Texas know about the Army Marathon that runs from Killeen (just outside of Fort Hood) to Temple. The marathon takes place on the first Sunday in March each year, and also consists of half-marathon and 5K events. There was even a shadow run in Kuwait which involved over 200 soldiers.
I spoke with Ed Bandas, former USMC artillery officer, who is the race director. Here are five things you likely didn’t know about the Army Marathon.
- The Army Marathon was created out of a strong desire to bring national attention to our soldiers in central Texas. Each and every veteran and soldier deserves our gratitude and assistance – not only those coming home with a Purple Heart. Our military population is large and many veterans stay in this area after transitioning out of the military. “The main intent is to help all of our heroes in the areas of mental health and job transition issues, widely considered to be the two most important issues facing our military today.”
- The plan for the Army Marathon is grandiose. “In five years, the Army Marathon will most likely rival most national events with tens of thousands of participants, multiple events nationwide, national charitable campaigns, job fairs for veterans and emergency responders and continued support of programs for mental health and transition issues… business plans are already being developed in that direction and this year is our ‘breakout’ year.”
- The Army Marathon is an organization “…comprised almost entirely of volunteers, although local contractors are used during the event itself in order to maintain continuity of mission critical functions (deployment of supplies, portapotties, medical resources, etc…) and as the event draws near, the volunteer ranks swell to over 500.”
- The main ideas and inspiration behind the Army Marathon are heartfelt and noble – it honors not only soldiers and veterans but also “…Our ‘citizen’ soldiers, the National Guard, emergency responders in our communities (many of whom are also veterans), the commitment and sacrifice of our founding fathers and military families, whose sacrifice, though different, is no less great.”
- The Army Marathon has grown each year. The Army Marathon III in 2014 had 1,184 participants and showed an approximate 31 percent increase in registration over the prior year. The Army Marathon IV in 2015 boasted close to 1,500 participants between the marathon, half-marathon and 5k.
Kindness and helping others is contagious and often forms a cycle. One good deed leads to another.
“The Army Marathon will hopefully help a veteran(s) who will eventually take leadership roles in their community and remember the opportunity given to them and repay that gift by helping other veterans,” Bandas said.
Author’s Note: Bandas is a shining example of military discipline and ideals at work — he is leading by example and guiding the way for others to help.