By Patrick Martin
Marine Corps Captain Daniel Cartica will trade his combat boots for running shoes when he takes on the World Marathon Challenge at the end of January to honor five service members killed in a shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He will be one of 15 people from around the world that will attempt to run a marathon on a different continent every day for seven days.
The competitors in the World Marathon Challenge are scheduled to run their first race in Antarctica on January 23. They will then fly between daily marathons in Chile, Miami, Spain, Morrocco, Dubai, and Sydney.
Cartica is raising money for the families of the slain service members and to off-set the cost of the trip. While he said the money he will eventually give to the families may be a small amount, he hopes to honor the memory of the slain servicemen and inspire others.
Currently the Marine Officer Instructor at the Northwestern University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, Cartica is an avid runner who has completed three marathons and three ultra-marathons. He finished the 2014 Gold Coast 62-mile super marathon in Australia in third place with a time of 8 hours and 16 minutes.
Cartica heard about the World Marathon Challenge in July. A few weeks later four Marines and one Sailor were killed in a shooting at a reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“I knew I wanted to do something in remembrance of what those guys did,” Cartica said. He saw many similarities between the reserve center staff who were killed and his current role at Northwestern University, where he trains college students who want to become Marine Corps officers.
“A lot of the publicity around the military today is focused on special forces and infantry. What most people don’t know is that 90 percent of people who serve do something other than infantry,” Cartica said. “Every single person in the military no matter their job, their specialty, or their background, they all play a small part in the supporting the big picture mission.”
Major Patrick Blankenship was Cartica’s boss when they were both deployed in the Western Pacific with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, a group of Marines on Navy ships who train with foreign militaries and respond to international emergencies.
“He went far and beyond what he was supposed to be doing as a logistics officer,” Blankenship said. In addition to organizing the logistical support for a unit of 1,000 Marines and working on his MBA, Cartica took time to mentor and teach classes to his young Marines. “I don’t know when the guy ever slept,” Blankenship said.
“If I can inspire someone to step outside their comfort zone and do something they didn’t think they could possibly do, I would deem this endeavor a success,” Cartica said.