By Mike T.
So what does Aretha Franklin have to do with running? Back in the 80s, there were 4 of us in the Marine Corps that were running 5Ks at around 24 minutes or so. For a bunch of 20 somethings in the military, that was hardly studly, much less competitive. So on a whim, we decided to see how fast we could get, never realizing how much our friendships and lives would be influenced by that decision.
We were all members of 8th and I’s D&B Company at Marine Barracks, Washington D.C. When we told guys from other companies about our goal, we got laughed at and in the usual Marine Corps manner were given a big ration of you know what for our idea.
One of the first times we hit the road towards our goal, one of us started singing Aretha’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T and it grew from there. We had none and had to earn it. Farmer, Toeller, Dolan, Blache, and Tatman, otherwise known as Andy, Ricky, Billy, Herbie and Mikey or as The Farmer, Tell, B.D, Fire and Ghost got down to the business at hand. The only one with really running chops was Farmer who had already placed in the top 50 at the Marine Corps marathon. He tried to offer some coaching advice but we mostly ignored it, laughed at him and gave him a big ration of you know what.
So we ran. In sandstorms in Arizona, in a hurricane in the Carolinas, in flood conditions in the Bahamas, doing hillwork in parking garages in the flatlands of Texas, on the beaches in Virginia, the Mall in DC, at 6 in the morning after closing the bars at 2, away from the police when we were caught sunbathing outside the Capital building in speedos and saw our times drop from 24s to 19s to 17s to 16s to 15s and had a great time doing it.
Along the way, “Respect” was still sung but now we had moved on to the line “What you want, baby, I got it.” We were cocky, young, invincible, competitive: everything we loved and everything guys who weren’t in the Marine Corps hated. We found that without really trying we had earned the R-E-S-P-E-C-T from not only the other Marines at 8th & I but from a lot of other people as well.
As near as I know, we all still run. We all remember placing 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 at the Cherry Blossom 2 mile race in DC and running the Stroh’s Run for Liberty after drinking Stroh’s until 2 in the morning the day of the race. Most importantly, we all still R-E-S-P-E-C-T each other. So as Aretha would say “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me.” Get out there and run.
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