To honor the 234th anniversary of the creation of the United States Navy and Marine Corps — both of which were established in 1777 — the University’s Naval ROTC will be running 234 consecutive miles over the course of the next three days.
The run will start today at 3:30 p.m. The route is a one-mile loop around the Diag that winds from North University Avenue to State Street t0 South University Avenue to Church Street and then back to North University Avenue.
Two midshipmen at a time will run the route, carrying the NROTC battalion guidon — a blue flag with a maize “M” on a six-foot pole — for three mile stretches. Then, they will pass the guidon to another pair who will continue the run. NROTC staff, all active members of the military, will also be participating.
The relay will go on continuously, even in the middle of the night, until 6 p.m. Friday morning when the entire NROTC battalion will run the last three miles together.
Each midshipman will run at least two shifts.
“At a minimum they’ll be running six miles,” said David Lee, an LSA senior in NROTC, “but we have other members of the battalion who are running much more, up to 15 miles.”
Every runner signed up for shifts that fit their schedule, even if that happened to be in the dead of night.
“Sometimes you get crazy motivated people and (they say) let’s go running at 2 a.m.,” said run coordinator Daniel Erwin, an Eastern Michigan University student.
“A lot of marines and sailors have been injured in the global war on terror, as well as previous conflicts, and they are no longer able to perform the duties physically,” he said. “This is our way of honoring their service and sacrifices.”
Maxx Irelan, an LSA junior in NROTC, agreed with Erwin, saying honoring those ROTC members who have come before him is an important part of the event.
“ROTC supporting veterans is big deal,” Irelan said, “so it’s great that (Veteran’s Day) can fall around the same time period so we can show our support with the run.”
He added: “It’s a good way to show our appreciation and a good way to celebrate it.”
Erwin said the University’s NROTC started the run last year to celebrate the 233rd birthday of the Navy and Marines and adapted the idea for the run from a similar event held at Virginia Tech. He noted, however, that there are some differences between this run and others.
“A run like this is sometimes conducted in utilities and boots, but for our sake, it is conducted in regular running attire,” Erwin said.
Besides celebrating the Navy and Marine Corps, Erwin said the runners hope to demonstrate the NROTC’s dedication.
“It’s our way of honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country,” he wrote. “If the community learns one thing from the run, I would like it to be about the sacrifice and professionalism of our military. Simply by running through the night, it shows the dedication and commitment of our service members. Service and sacrifice above all else.”