The images said it all.
The photographs and videos showed the Marine veteran from Tallmadge, Ohio, crawling across the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.
Micah Herndon, a former Marine who survived an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2010, collapsed and crawled to the finish at the Boston Marathon.
— ESPN (@espn) April 16, 2019
But Micah Herndon, 31, said he was never alone, even though his legs refused to hold him upright anymore.
The memories of fellow servicemen and his fallen Marine friends were with him through it all and were what kept him from quitting.
Still a bit sore Tuesday from the race, Herndon said the first inkling that he might be in trouble came at so-called Heartbreak Hill and near mile 22 when his legs began to lock up.
“That was the longest 4 miles I have ever run in my life,” he said.
Herndon, a graduate of Southeast High School in Portage County, then did what he always does when he needs to summon inner strength and resolve — he began repeating the names “Mark Juarez, Matthew Ballard and Rupert Hamer” over and over again.
Their memories are always close for Herndon, who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lost the three friends in bombing attacks in Afghanistan.
“I just repeat their last names,” Herndon said. “It reminds me that what pain I am going through, it is a fraction of that of my fellow brothers and what their families go through every day.”
As the marathon progressed, Herndon said, his legs gave way completely and he collapsed. So he began to crawl the last 100 or so yards.
And when he could crawl no more, his military training kicked in and he used his arms to drag his body toward the finish line because Marines, as he says, “adapt and overcome.”
Eventually, he said, he regained some feeling in his legs and was able to use his knees to crawl again, finishing with a time of three hours and 38 minutes — missing his goal of two hours and 53 minutes to qualify for the New York Marathon.
Images of the physically agonizing finish spread across social media and were quickly shared tens of thousands of times.
“It’s crazy how fast social media spreads,” he said. “It is like wildfire.”
He admits he’s a bit uncomfortable with all the attention. He’s been interviewed by the likes of everyone from the Boston Globe to “Good Morning America.”
But he’s glad to keep alive the memories of the 2010 IED blast that killed several in a convoy where he was a machine gunner. He’s using the opportunity to remind everyone that troops are still returning home from the nation’s longest war and many have mental and physical wounds that need help healing.
Herndon said he took up running to help him recover from the war as he tries to run daily and as much as 50 miles a week.
He considers himself lucky.
He has a job he enjoys working as a substation technician for Ohio Edison.
A loving wife, Sarah.
And a baby girl on the way in just a couple of months.
“Life is very, very good.”
© 2019 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.