Fighting fit to take on the New York Marathon

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Tavis Knack (author), CPOML-SC Kathryn Holmes (photographer), ABML-S Sittichai Sakonpoonpol (photographer)

Location(s): New York City, NY, USA

Topic(s): Running, HMAS Brisbane (D41), Fit to Fight

L-R: Leading Seaman Jarryd Boyd; Chief Petty Officer Raechelle Henderson; Sub Lieutenant Savanna Schimmel; CPO Jeremy Pitchford; Lieutenant Commander Tavis Knack and Petty Officer Neale Merrick from HMAS Brisbane alongside San Diego Naval Base prior to the 2019 New York Marathon. (photo: ABML-S Sittichai Sakonpoonpol)
L-R: Leading Seaman Jarryd Boyd; Chief Petty Officer Raechelle Henderson; Sub Lieutenant Savanna Schimmel; CPO Jeremy Pitchford; Lieutenant Commander Tavis Knack and Petty Officer Neale Merrick from HMAS Brisbane alongside San Diego Naval Base prior to the 2019 New York Marathon.

Following a highly successful Combat System Sea Qualification Trial period HMAS Brisbane Officers and Sailors took on a very different fight along the famous streets of New York City.

Six members of HMAS Brisbane’s ship’s company were selected to participate in the 2019 New York Marathon. Organised and supported by the Ship’s Physical Training Instructor, Leading Seaman Jarryd Boyd, the Brisbane team were sponsored by Fleet Command as part of Navy’s Fit to Fight Program.

Each of the selected runners had previously competed in previous marathons such as the Canberra 42.2km or in Navy running events such as the Penguin Gate to Gate run.

The New York marathon is held annually and stretches across all five boroughs of New York City, to finish in Central Park. It is one of the six world marathon major events and is the largest marathon in the world by attendance, with well over 50,000 runners every year.

In the lead up to the race, the Brisbane running team was been busy carving trails around San Diego Naval Base, USS Midway foreshore area and Mission Bay.

A number of the team also ran a half marathon across the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to cap off the ship’s busy US Navy Fleet Week visit. The early mornings and long weekend runs showed great commitment by the team.

Petty Officer Combat Systems Supervisor, Neale Merrick reflected on how the marathon has affected his deployment experience,

“Having the New York Marathon as a personal headmark has really challenged me to apply a strong focus on my training and maintain my fitness while at sea. For me personally, 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 race started on New York’s Staten Island and had an electric atmosphere with thousands of people crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to kick off the event.

The runners were greeted with a great cheer as they crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge into Manhattan and entered the final third of the race. The crowds built as the runners got closer to Central Park with an estimated one million people turning out to line the streets in support of the event.

The final two kilometres of the race saw the runners trace the bottom of Central Park and cross the finishing line beside the Tavern on The Green.

Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Raechelle Henderson said she greatly enjoyed the unique experience after crossing the line.

“What an amazing experience! 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,” said Chief Petty Officer Henderson.

For Sub Lieutenant Savanna Schimmel, the ships Assistant Maritime Logistics Officer, the race was an 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,” said Sub Lieutenant Schimmel.

Leading Seaman Jarryd Boyd was pleased with how the event turned out and felt that there was scope for more of these endeavours in the future.

“This has been a great experience and one that I will take forward with me in the rest of my career. Races and events like these provide strong motivation for training and maintaining a healthy mind and body while at sea and on deployments” said Leading Seaman Boyd.

“As a Physical Training Instructor I think it’s great that Navy can give people an opportunity to aim at higher things and that Navy can deliver unique and rewarding experiences.”

HMAS Brisbane is currently in the United States and has recently completed her Combat System Trials and is due to return to Australia in December.

Images are available on the Navy Image Gallery: https://images.navy.gov.au/S20192907.