EMeRG volunteers at Marine Corps Marathon

Members of EMeRG worked as emergency response volunteers at the 31st annual Marine Corps Marathon Sunday, which drew tens of thousands of runners, spectators and volunteers.

Emergency Medical Response Group is a student organization that provides free emergency medical service to the Foggy Bottom area and offers support for D.C.-area events year-round. EMeRG spokesperson Harland Westgate, a first-year law student, said group members volunteer their time off-campus to help “worthy cause(s)” and increase awareness of the organization.

“The Marine Corps Marathon in particular is an event that promotes a healthy lifestyle by encouraging exercise,” Westgate wrote in an e-mail Saturday. “As healthcare providers, we’re always thrilled to be able to support an effort to promote health.”

Over 30,000 runners and 70,000 spectators attended the 26.2-mile race yesterday, which takes runners across the Key Bridge, down M Street, past the Hall on Virginia Avenue and along the National Mall. The four EMeRG volunteers woke up at about 3:30 a.m. to report to their campus office, pack up a 4-RIDE vehicle with their bikes, and report for the emergency response briefing at 5 a.m. The race ended at about 2 p.m.

Originally stationed at the Georgetown leg of the race, the crew was later assigned to Independence Avenue at about 8 a.m. because more medical personnel were needed in that area.

The students rode up and down the course on bikes with medical bags for treating marathon runners. Injuries typically range from pulled muscles to heart conditions, said senior Marc Berenson, one of two shift supervisors at the event.

“The Marine Corps Marathon provides a different opportunity because you tend to see a different type of patient,” Berenson said. He added that he doesn’t mind the early hours and enjoys the exercise.

He said the race also offered EMeRG members a chance to work with 15 other emergency response groups from Maryland and Virginia, something normal EMeRG shifts can’t provide.

Senior Laura Annetta, the other EMeRG supervisor at the event and a 4-year veteran of the group, said she also appreciated the different work experience the marathon offered.

“It’s just a completely different set of people,” Annetta said.

The hundreds of U.S. Marines stationed throughout the race drove up from their base in Quantico, Va., to help pass out water and Powerade to runners and to assist in redirecting traffic.

Capt. Justin Okun estimated it took 20 or 30 minutes to fill the hundreds of cups with water or Powerade for runners at his table.

“This is part of our job as Marines,” he said.

Many participants in the race parked near Foggy Bottom and could be seen streaming into the Metro between 6 and 7:30 a.m.

John Goodwill, 19, and nine of his fellow teammates on a Nordic ski team from Pittsburgh, Pa., stayed with a high school friend in Virginia before the race. Goodwill, who attends the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said he expected to end the race in three hours and 15 minutes to qualify for the Boston Marathon in April.

“It’s physically terrible but emotionally powerful,” Goodwill said. “I’m going to physically want to die.”

Spectators and supporters lined M Street in Georgetown, cheering for the runners as they passed. Georgetown Sophomores Christina Capatides and Elizabeth Niles woke up at 8:30 a.m. after partying until 5 a.m. to cheer on a friend in the race.

“We’re thankful for the time change,” Niles said as she sipped on a Starbucks coffee cup.

This year’s Marathon also included a festival in Crystal City, Va., and bands playing along the route to entertain spectators.

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