Sea legs go the distance

Petty Officer Neale Merrick, Lieutenant Commander Tavis Knack, Sub Lieutenant Savanna Schimmel, Chief Petty Officer Raechelle Henderson, Leading Seaman Jarryd Boyd and Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Pitchford before the marathon.

Sea legs go the distance

Following a successful Combat System Sea Qualification Trial period, some of HMAS Brisbane’s officers and sailors took on a very different fight along the streets of New York City.

Six members of the ship’s company were selected to run in this year’s New York Marathon on November 3.

It is among the world’s top six marathons and the largest in terms of participation, attracting more than 50,000 competitors.

Organised and supported by Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Jarryd Boyd, the team was sponsored by Fleet Command as part of Navy’s Fit to Fight program.

Each of the selected runners had competed in events such as the Canberra Marathon or HMAS Penguin’s Gate-to-Gate run.

In preparation for the New York event, which stretches 42.2km across the city’s five boroughs to Central Park, the runners carved trails around San Diego Naval Base, USS Midway foreshore area and Mission Bay.

Some of the team members also ran a half-marathon across the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to cap off the ship’s busy US Navy Fleet Week visit.

Petty Officer Neale Merrick said the marathon challenged him to apply a strong focus on his training and maintain his fitness while at sea.

“Finishing the New York Marathon stands side-by-side with completing the System Qualification Trial missile firings as a proud fighting achievement,” Petty Officer Merrick said.

The atmosphere was electric as thousands of people crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island to start the race.

The runners were greeted with a great cheer as they crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge into Manhattan to enter the final third of the race and the crowds built as the runners got closer to Central Park. About a million people lined the streets in support.

Chief Petty Officer Raechelle Henderson described the experience of running around the bottom of Central Park and crossing the finish line beside the iconic Tavern on the Green as amazing.

“It was very demanding and challenging but it was worth every second of training to be here in New York and to achieve a great personal goal,” CPO Henderson said.

Assistant marine logistics officer Sub Lieutenant Savanna Schimmel said competing in the race was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“The training was tough but there was no better feeling than crossing the finish line. I am so grateful for being selected and being able to participate in one of the world’s most famous marathons,” she said.

Leading Seaman Boyd said there was scope for crew members to take on more challenges.

“Races and events like these provide strong motivation for training and maintaining a healthy mind and body while at sea and on deployments,” Leading Seaman Boyd said.

“I think we could do more to engage in these types of unique experiences as individuals and as a ship’s company.”

Brisbane is due to return to Australia in December.

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