Two CNM Student Vets Participate in Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon

May 4, 2016 -- Two CNM students, both Army veterans, ran and walked 26.2 miles carrying 20-pound backpacks March 20 as part of the New Mexico Bataan Memorial Death March marathon.
May 04, 2016

They were among some 6,000 walkers and runners who participated in the annual commemoration of the Bataan Death March, hiking through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range. The march has been conducted annually since 1990 in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II, sacrificing their freedom, health and, in many cases, their lives. The marathon is regarded by Marathon Guide as one of the top 30 marathons in the U.S.

It took student Sophie Rider, a former Army combat medic, seven hours and 24 minutes to walk the route with her 20-pound backpack containing water and snacks. Colleague and friend Nathan Yellowman, a member of the Navajo Nation and former Army Ranger, ran most of the 26.2 miles with his backpack in six hours and 21 minutes.

“It was a great experience and very emotional,” Rider said. “I pushed harder than I ever thought I could, and I’m excited to do it again next year.”

Rider said she and Yellowman trained for several months, running 10 miles a training session and eventually going up to 20 miles. They went the full 26.2 miles for the first time during the marathon.

The Bataan Memorial Death March is attended by many of the survivors of the original march, along with thousands of supporters from around the world. The marathon had a 15-mile run for those who did not wish to run the full course.

Rider is studying to become a nurse, and Yellowman is in CNM’s welding program.