Philadelphia Marathon: Saluting our veterans who run

Nichole Duchman, who served in Iraq, is running the Half Marathon as a way to cope with PTSD.

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Veterans Day, Sports Doc asked for a few stories of veterans who will be participating in next week’s Philadelphia Marathon weekend. More stories tomorrow.

Nichole Duchman –

Army, served in Iraq, running Half Marathon, runs as a way to cope with PTSD 

Nicole joined the Army right out of high school to help pay for college. She took a year to go to basic training and military police school and was taking some classes when the September 11 tragedies occurred. She was in a college European history class in the morning and in a Hummer by nightfall—heading to DC fully locked and loaded.

After 9 months of security operations in the DC area she was on a troop cargo plane heading into Iraq (April 2003, war had begun).

In Nicole’s own words: 

“The reality is, I was a fat, lazy, insecure high school kid who realized I needed to get my life physically and mentally on track in order to become happy. I joined the army and could barely run 1 mile. Soon I could run 2 miles in 15 minutes. I stayed at 2-3 until I came back from a 16-month deployment in Iraq when I needed to keep going because my mind needed to keep trying to process 16 months of war and explosions, prisons and heat. I kept running and slowly I was up to 4, 5, 6 miles.

I started running because of the Army, I kept running because it kept me alive. I will run the Philadelphia half marathon every year I am physically able because it is the event that showed me I am happy, I will stay happy and I will always be healthy, by choice.”

Emily Zavinky

U.S. Navy, trained while in service (at port), on a Quest to join 50 States Marathon Club.

In 2009 Emily joined the United States Navy for a variety of reasons—mostly to get out of her comfort zone, and somewhat to give herself four years to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. During her Naval career, Emily was stationed in Japan for three years and was able to visit much of Southeast Asia.

Being a budding marathoner she tried to run as consistently as she could when she was in port. After the earthquake/tsunami/Fukushima incident, she maintained her lunch-time run ritual not really thinking anything of it. Emily recalls:

“ I remember one day in particular being at the exact midpoint of my loop around the base when a lady drove by, stopped, rolled down her window, and informed me that I should ‘get inside, because there's radiation.’

Being a stubborn distance runner and perfectly aware that I was right in the middle of my run (and that a Silkwood-style shower was an option), I thanked her and kept going to complete my loop. I think it was this same stubborn streak that helped me excel in the military at a difficult job, under sometimes difficult conditions.“

Four years later, Emily jokes that she still don't know what she wants to be when she grows up, but she does want to continue her quest to join the 50 States Marathon Club, and the GORE-TEX ® Philadelphia Marathon will be her 6th state.

David Lauck

Marine Corps Veteran, started running last year in honor and memory of dad and uncle (marine vets and retired Phila Fire Dept.), just ran Marine Corps marathon 3 weeks ago.

 David is a Marine Corps veteran (1992-1997) running the Philadelphia Marathon! David completed the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday October 27, his first full and will be running Philadelphia 3 weeks later!

David runs for his Dad and Uncle who passed away in December and January, respectively, and were both Marine veterans. He just started running last year. In Dec my uncle died.

In David’s Words: 

“I started running races in their honor and it was also like therapy for me. They followed each other through life and death. Grew up in St. Louis, both joined the Marine Corps, both ended up in Philadelphia making careers in the Fire Dept. and both died within a month of each other.  

Nov 10th is the Marine Corps birthday and the 11th is Veterans Day. The Philadelphia Marathon is my final big race of the year and ties it all together for me.”

Deborah McCaghren

Army Veteran from Texas, running 3rd marathon with 15 Texans from her running club.

She was in the Army in the 80s, stationed in Germany. Deborah comes from a military family—her father retired from the Army and served in the Korean War and 2 tours in Vietnam.

She joined the Army to be just like her hero—her father.

According to Deborah,

“Running a Marathon is a lot like being in the military. In fact the slogan is "Be All You Can Be" and that is what I think when I am training for my Race. I can be all that I can be with the right attitude and training. Sometimes on my training runs I find myself running and calling out cadences Like "1 mile no sweat...2 miles better yet"... LOL and remember I was in the army over 30 years ago and yet I can still remember those cadences.

Being a part of my running club reminds me of my Military family when I was in the Army. In my Rockwall Running club we are always looking after each and are their to help and encourage each other. I am not a fast runner in fact, a few of us call ourselves turtles but that is okay with me. Even our Elite runners are our biggest fans. I am so thankful for my running family.”

The Philadelphia Marathon will be Deborah’s 3rd full marathon. Deborah runs with the "Rockwall Running Club" from Rockwall Texas and will be traveling with about 15 runners flying to Philadelphia to run the race. She will turn 50 in December and, according to Deborah, “I am excited about ending my 40's running my 3rd Full Marathon in Philly. I am just hoping for NO SNOW.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, GORE-TEX ® Philadelphia Marathon Race weekend (November 15-17,2013) features runners from all 50 states and 43 countries. During Marathon Weekend, more than 60,000 spectators line the race course throughout the city to cheer along the more than 30,000 runners who participate in the Marathon (26.2 miles), Half Marathon (13.1 miles) and Rothman 8K. 

Stay tuned for more 2013 Philadelphia Marathon coverage at

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