Makin Island Sailors, Marines Mark First Half of Deployment with Half-Marathon 
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kory D. Alsberry, USS Makin Island Public Affairs 
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea –- Sailors and Marines deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) marked the halfway point of the current deployment by participating in a half-marathon on the ship’s flight deck, April 7.

A total of 170 Sailors and Marines participated in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) “Halfway Half-Marathon.” The run was organized not only to celebrate the halfway point of deployment, but also to emphasize the importance of staying fit and having fun while deployed.

“Events like these are a great way to relieve stress and get ourselves mentally and physically fit,” said Kristen Venoy, Makin Island’s MWR Fun Boss, who organized the event. “It is three hours out of their day that they can pretend they are not on a warship in the middle of 5th Fleet. Today we celebrated and challenged our bodies against heat, humidity, and exhaustion and we conquered 13.1 miles.”

Venoy said the half-marathon was also a way to help boost the crew’s morale. Sailors and Marines who took part in the event agreed.

“We have a great MWR program on board and they come up with so many events to keep morale up,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Suxuan Le, who ran during in the event. “The half-marathon was just another example of their good works. I think that this event in particular was a good boost because the half-marathon marked our halfway point on this deployment.”

After several months at sea, Le said finding different ways to break up the daily routine can help Sailors fight complacency and daily stress.

“Time seems to blur on deployments and every day becomes ‘Groundhog Day’ as we go through our daily routine,” said Le. “The half-marathon marked time for everyone and simultaneously reminded us all to start our preparations for the journey home.”

With Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announcing the “21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative” last month that includes a renewed focus on physical fitness, members of Makin Island’s crew took notice.

“Physical fitness is part of the Navy culture, but also an important facet to anyone's life,” said Le. “I think that a person that stays in shape has a healthier lifestyle, habits, and emotional and mental health.

Le said a lot of daily stressors can be alleviated simply by having healthy outlets like exercise.

“I think this was a great stress reliever and one of those events that people can look forward to,” said Le. “I think after today, people will come away with a sense of accomplishment, motivation to stay fit, and excitement as we embark on the second leg of our journey.”

Sporting and athletic events such as Makin Island’s MWR half-marathon are expected to play a big role in promoting the 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative.

The initiative emphasizes five key areas: readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion and continuum of service. Using events such as the marathon to promote a "culture of fitness" makes it not only fun, but all-inclusive as well. Sailors and Marines of all ranks and ages took part in the run.

“I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day,” said Sgt. Miguel Bravo, who also ran during the half-marathon. “We can be called on in a moment’s notice, so it’s important to be physically ready at all times. It wasn’t hard to participate in the half-marathon because my workouts prepare me for things like this.”

Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, currently supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
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