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Bataan Memorial Death March: Meet Team Relentless

Dave gets nervous when he hears me say the words, “You know what we should do sometime…?” because he knows sometime is code for soon, and more often than not, that thing I want to do is way outside our comfort zone.

One of the unexpected gifts of CrossFit in my life is the amazing people I know – and now they indulge me by playing my reindeer games, too. We call ourselves Team Relentless because we will not be dissuaded from our mission.

Last spring, the first incarnation of Team Relentless ran in the ZOOMA Half Marathon. Then in the summer, we participated in the CrossFit Women’s Challenge. On March 21, Team Relentless v. 3 is tackling the Bataan Memorial Death March.

I asked each of our team members to answer the same three questions. What I love most about their responses is that each of their answers is SO them. Meet the beautiful, strong, good-humored, large-hearted members of Team Relentless.

BERNIE

Why did you decide to do the Bataan Memorial Death March?
Because you asked me, and I thought it would be a fun way to get to know people.

What’s the thing you’re most worried about in doing the March?
Untested gear and the possibility of sand. I guess that’s two.

If a genie granted you a food wish, what food would you wish for at mile 20 of the March?
Chocolate covered pretzels. But I do not plan to eat them because me and wheat are on the outs. But I am seriously considering bringing a jar of nutella. ;-)

BONITA

Why did you decide to do the Bataan Memorial Death March?
I’ve always been drawn toward events that educate the public about serious issues faced in the world (past or present) or bring awareness. This will be the first event I’ve participated in that honors our military and thier sacrifices. I look forward to the experience.

What’s the thing you’re most worried about in doing the March?
My feet.

If a genie granted you a food wish, what food would you wish for at mile 20 of the March?
A Filet Mignon. [Note that she didn’t specify if that’s raw or broiled. – Mel]

Read Bonita’s blog.

CARLA

Why did you decide to do the Bataan Memorial Death March?
I decided to do the Bataan Memorial Death March for three reasons. The first is to honor the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for ours. I can already sense that this experience will be an emotional one. It’s another reminder that many men and women sign contracts everyday that ultimately could mean handing over their lives for their country. Several of my family members served in the military: my grandfather Delfin (Navy), my mother Leilani (Army), my uncle Larry (Army), my brother Andy (Air Force), my sister (Air Force), and several of my cousins. I am proud to call myself an Army Brat. Thanks to my mother’s service, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the world in a unique way, traveling to several countries across Europe as a child (I was born in Germany), and learning how to adapt to new situations/cultures/regions every time we moved. Sure it’s had its ups and downs. But I’m mostly thankful.

The second reason is to maintain friendships and relationships. I ran a half-marathon last April with some of the same members of Team Relentless (whom I met at CrossFit Central). So I’m just thrilled to have another opportunity to share an experience with such a special, remarkable, determined, inspiring, and witty group of people. CrossFit is tricky because you initially may think you signed up for a class just to get in a good workout – in reality, you find out that you’re signing up to join a community of badassess, and you end up creating bonds with people through struggle, pain, hardship, and triumph. Sneaky, isn’t it?

The third reason is to take on a challenge. I have never walked a marathon in my life, and this will be the first. That’s pretty self-explanatory. So why not throw in some paleo snacks, intelligent conversation with teammates, and don funky outfits?

What’s the thing you’re most worried about in doing the March?
I’m most worried about my ankles giving out, acquiring nasty blisters, and getting extremely hungry. Oh…..and dare I say bathroom breaks of the number 2 variety. Yeah, I went there.

If a genie granted you a food wish, what food would you wish for at mile 20 of the March?
Fresh out of the oven, paleo chocolate chip cookies with ooo-gooey chocolate chips!

DAVE

Why did you decide to do the Bataan Memorial Death March?
It’s been a year or so since I did something that was way out of my comfort zone – the Austin half marathon was the last one. It felt like it was time to do something crazy. “Walking a marathon in a desert” qualifies for me. The “on a missile range” and “with survivors of the Bataan Death March” and “with a great team” is super cool gravy.

What’s the thing you’re most worried about in doing the March?
I might be misguided, but I’m not that worried. Slow, steady, lots of water and food. I think we’ll be fine. Also, if I am misguided, and it’s going to be horrible, I think I’d rather not know. I’m doing the training and preparation that I’m going to do, so there’s not much point in worrying about it for me. (It’s entirely possible that I’ll feel differently after the 14-mile training walk this Saturday.)

If a genie granted you a food wish, what food would you wish for at mile 20 of the March?
“Chocolate milkshake” springs to mind. Maybe with some protein powder in it. Some BBQ’d chicken thighs would be good, too. Crisp, cool celery.

GEORGIA

Why did you decide to do the Bataan Memorial Death March?
This sort of event is one that I would never have considered doing. It is totally out of my comfort zone. However, when the invite landed in my inbox, I took it as a sign from The Universe to try something crazy and new.

What’s the thing you’re most worried about in doing the March?
I’m worried that I’m not going to finish. Or worse, that I’ll complain. [Team Relentless seriously doubts that Georgia will complain. But we will love her even if she does. – Mel]

If a genie granted you a food wish, what food would you wish for at mile 20 of the March?
Ham sandwich with American cheese, iceburg lettuce, Miracle Whip, and tomatoes on Mrs. Bairds bread. Ham sandwiches remind me of summers as a kid. Since the bread  and cheese would probably make me ill, I’ll take the faux sandwich of ham, tomato, Mel’s homemade mayo, wrapped in lettuce. I’d like to wash it down with coconut water, please. :-)

Read Georgia’s blog.

JENNIFER

Why did you decide to do the Bataan Memorial Death March?
It didn’t really take too much convincing to do the March. Great cause, awesome group of people to share the experience with, and an opportunity to do something that not many people can say they have done.

What’s the thing you’re most worried about in doing the March?
Honestly, I’m not so much worried about the weather conditions or the terrain. I figure I can make it through the 26.2 miles, especially with a group of people who are so encouraging and supportive. I think the thing that worries me the most is the preparation for the trip/March. It sounds trivial, but I’ve not allowed myself to start making a list of what I need, so to sit and actually give it some thought worries me.

If a genie granted you a food wish, what food would you wish for at mile 20 of the March?
A genie at mile 20? I’m not sure how hungry I’m going to be at mile 20, but for some reason I’m thinking some citrus would be really good at that time. Some sweet juicy oranges? Since I know there will be 6.2 miles left with the sand pit at mile 21, I’m afraid of asking for something really heavy and/or decadent. I’ll save those wishes for after the March!

Why did you decide to do the Bataan Memorial Death March?
When Dave and I became runners, a whole world of adventures opened up before us. Now we have a growing list of places we want to run: the Antarctica half marathon, the trails of northern California, over the hills of Ireland, cobblesstones in Prague and Paris, a snowy trail through a forest… stuff like that.

I read this article about the Bataan Memorial March in Runner’s World about a year and a half ago. I tore the page from the magazine and tucked it into the back of my workout log where I keep my “someday” stuff. But my thoughts kept returning to it and how if we wanted to meet POWs to shake their hands and offer small words of gratitude for their large sacrifice, we were going to have to act soon. And here we are: less than a month away from a 26.2 mile hike. This Saturday, I’ll travel further on foot than I ever have before; we’re hiking 14 miles as a test. I hope I’m up to the task. I find inspiration and commitment in the fact that the men forced to march in 1942 didn’t know if they were up to the task either, and their stakes were much higher.

What’s the thing you’re most worried about in doing the March?
If I analyze my general sense of free-floating anxiety, I think I’m most concerned because I’ve just never walked that far before. I don’t know what to expect – and I am ALL ABOUT expectations. Will I like it? If not, at what point will it start to suck… mile 4? Mile 11.7? Mile 26.1? Will I eat enough? Will I get altitude sickness? What if I get dehydrated? Is the sand pit really as bad as everyone says or are they just being divas? Will I also be a diva at mile 21?

And honestly, on a more personal note, I feel shy about meeting the POWs. I’m overwhelmed by the idea that I will have to think of something to say. The words “thank you” seem so small, but I hope if I say them the right way, they’ll convey what’s really beyond words to express.

If a genie granted you a food wish, what food would you wish for at mile 20 of the March?
If it’s hot, which it’s not supposed to be (please, universe, make it not hot), it would be lovely to have a soft-serve vanilla ice cream in a cake cone with some pretzel sticks on the side for dipping. If it’s cool, which it might be (please, universe, make it cool but not cold), a cheeseburger – with an actual bun and cheese – sounds like the protein-fest I’d be craving.

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2 Responses to “Bataan Memorial Death March: Meet Team Relentless”

  1. girlblake says:

    Look at all you awesome girls and guys! I'm so excited for you all, this looks like it's going to be an experience of a lifetime. Take pictures and bring back your stories. We'll be cheering you on from afar. Go get 'em!

  2. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks, Blake! Whenever I get nervous about the March, I remember the incredible people that will be there with me, and I feel ever so much better.

    We'll miss you! I'm so glad I'm going to get to see you run at ZOOMA.

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