HydroWorx Underwater Marathon!

My situation in a nutshell:  shut down.  After Monday’s cross-town walk (hobble) of shame, I kept to my plan and did absolutely nothing.  The leg is feeling a little better, but no way to tell how it’ll perform under pressure.  With 5 days (Tue-Sat) of rest, I’m hoping for the best.  Luckily Sunday was a new day.  But enough about broken down me, what I really want to blog about is some underwater (in the words of Will Farrell) awesomeness!!!

Best. Underwater Marathon. Ever.

Sunday was the big day for HydroWorx Underwater Marathon.  For the past 6+ months, the folks at HydroWorx have been working their tails off as an organization raising money, awareness, and enthusiasm for the world’s first ever underwater marathon.  The marathon was being held in support of the Eagle Fund, a group whose purpose is to raise money to support the rehabilitation of US Special Forces soldiers wounded defending our nation.  Instead of rehabilitating these elite warriors in the traditional manner (within the military hospital system), the Eagle Fund puts these soldiers in a rehab program alongside elite professional athletes at Athletes Performance Center in Pensacola FL.  By giving these wounded serviceman the same therapy that a multi-million dollar athlete would receive, they are returned to the fight at a much higher rate and in a much quicker timeframe – a win-win situation for both the individual and our country.  These brave men are and were the inspiration throughout the weekend, and were fantastic representatives of all the members serving in our armed forces today.  And on a complete side note, if you were a Taliban member scoping out the event on Sunday and saw some of these dudes, I bet you dumped your garb in the nearest trashcan and headed for the hills.  Bad Ass!!

Check out the Eagle Fund – keeping our troops in the fight!

Organizers prepare the venerable X80s for battle as dawn breaks over Troegs Brewery in Hershey PA.

Troegs – providing hydration to underwater runners since 2012

The marathon was held at Troegs Brewery in Hershey PA.  The folks at Troegs opened their doors (and parking lot) to all the HydroWorx gear and personnel, and provided a great venue for everyone (I think it was confirmed that aside from vanquishing bad guys, the second greatest passion of a special forces soldier is craft beer).  16 HydroWorx X80 treadmills were set up in 3 pools, then submerged in 33,000 gallons of nice warm water.  Two “heats” of runners were held during the event, one morning and one afternoon, and each treadmill held a team that ran the 26.2 miles in a relay format.  All of the runners had either raised money for the Eagle Fund or were sponsored by a corporation or another individual.  16 runners ran simultaneously throughout the morning and afternoon sessions – all the while urged on by two great ‘Master of Ceremonies’ –  John Butler (LaSalle ’07, 8:02/3000m) and Jon Ritchie (FB, Oakland Raiders/Philadelphia Eagles).  I was officially there as a volunteer, but when two different teams needed an extra relay leg I was ‘johnny on the spot” – I was able to log about 5 miles with each one team, so 10 aqua-miles was icing on the cake for me.  Leg felt great, but then again when you are running alongside a green beret who was recovering from three gunshot wounds and a broken back received in a firefight and IED explosion it’s best not to whine about a bum hammy….

Supporting “Team #8” with a 5-mile leg…

All in all the weather was glorious, the volunteers and HydroWorx staff had the event running like clockwork, and their format and unique product left all the runners with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have some fun for a great cause.  I think all told they raised over $300,000, almost $500,000 when including in-kind donations by various corporations.  I was moved by the outpouring of respect and emotion displayed towards the real-life heroes that were not on the news or a web page but physically in our presence.  Being the humble citizen-soldiers that most service members are they repeatedly thanked us for helping them, but they deserved all the praise and then some.  I was glad to have been a part of this fantastic event, and hope that if there are future runnings of the Underwater Marathon that other people can get the opportunity to come and join the cause.  Hats off to HydroWorx, the Eagle Fund, all the sponsors and participants, and the brave guys representing all the men and women who patrol bad places every day.   I think one of the warriors said it best – “Hell Yeah!”

Anson Flake and I enjoying the festivities. Anson and his unbelievable group of employees at HydroWorx definitely knocked it out of the park on this one…

Thanks for your service, stay safe and God Bless!


About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
This entry was posted in Aquatic Fitness, Hydrotherapy, HydroWorx Exercise Pool, Running, Uncategorized, Water Running and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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