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Since 1993, White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico has held the Bataan Memorial Death March, an annual marathon honoring those who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. April 9 marked the 69th anniversary of the original tragedy when 75,000 American and Filipino service members surrendered to Japanese forces. The POWs were forced on a deadly 50+ mile march out of Bataan peninsula and were subjected to brutal treatment, starvation, and the Japanese soldiers shooting and bayoneting anyone that was too weak to keep up the pace of the march.
Last weekend, some of the few remaining survivors attended the marathon to lend their support to the competitors at the start and finish lines of the grueling 26.2 or 15.2 mile courses. Service members competed in two categories — Military Light, where they can wear civilian running clothes and shoes, and Military Heavy, where they are required to wear their uniform and carry a 35-pound ruck sack.
The top finisher in the Men’s Military Heavy division was Mehmet Danis from Toronto, Canada, who finished the marathon in 4:40:00. The top female Military Heavy finisher was Amberly Glitz with a time of 6:19:21.