BOSTON (WCVB/CNN) - A U.S Marine pushed through intense pain to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon, an endeavor he undertook in honor of three men he met while serving in Afghanistan.
As Micah Herndon, of Tallmadge, OH, approached the finish line Monday at the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon, his legs locked up.
"Both my legs locked up, the worst pain I've ever experienced running,” Herndon said.
Herndon was struggling, but with the historic finish line in sight, the Marine veteran refused to let his race be over.
"The mindset of a Marine, you finish it by yourself,” he said.
As other runners stopped to help just feet from the end, Herndon pushed on alone, crawling on his hands and knees, in pain but determined to finish. He finally crossed the line with a time of three hours and 38 minutes and was immediately lifted into a wheelchair to receive medical assistance.
For Herndon, the marathon was more than just a physical feat. It was an endeavor he had undertaken in honor of three men he knew when he served in Afghanistan – Mark Juarez, Matthew Ballard and Rupert Hamer – and finishing was a tribute to them.
“I run in honor of them,” Herndon told the Record-Courier. “They are not here anymore. I am here, and I am able. I am lucky to still have all my limbs. I can still be active. I find fuel in the simple idea that I can run. Some cannot.”
Herndon said that while running, whenever he feels like giving up, he just repeats his comrades’ names. He also runs with tags on his shoes that list their last names.
The veteran says running has helped him ease the weight of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"One way for me to deal with everything is to get in my own zone, my own headspace, and just go,” Herndon said. “I will have setbacks in my life. I will go backwards, but it’s how you respond going forward.”
Even though his marathon finish time fell short of his goal, Herndon hopes his powerful display of determination can help inspire others who may be struggling.