Friday, November 2, 2007

And the Penguin goes to …

Major Megan McClung of Coupeville, Washington, has touched the hearts of many people, for many different reasons. As a public affairs officer in Iraq in 2006, she organized the Marine Corps Marathon for those Marines overseas taking part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was part of the Marine Corps family, the Naval Academy family and the family of the running community. She was killed on Dec. 6 by a roadside bomb last year in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. This year at the Marine Corps Marathon, a new award was given in her honor: The Penguin Award.

Somehow Megan had gotten her hands on “The Penguin Chronicles,” a series of articles written by John “The Penguin” Bingham, who currently writes for Runner’s World. In Bingham’s articles, he lends human qualities to a penguin that runs for the joy of it rather than for a first place medal. Megan’s mother said she really must have taken that to heart when she organized the Marine Corps Marathon competition in Iraq in 2006.

“She called and asked us to send her a stuffed penguin,” said her mother, Re.

Since the penguin, named Paul, was going overseas, McClung’s parents decided to cut him orders and ship him off “military style.” That penguin was awarded to the final finisher in the marathon in Iraq, symbolizing that even though that runner crossed the finish line last, he’s still a winner because he didn’t give up.

This year that tradition carried on to the marathon in Washington. read more ...

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