Lifelong FriendshipsBy: Cadet Dae-Hyuc Yim
Living the wingman conceptCadets Yim and Cline following the race with their medals.
We had been running together for 12.5 hours when my friend and fellow cadet, Kyle Cline, told me he would be splitting off from me. Being one of the mentally and physically strongest cadets in the detachment, I had asked Kyle if he would enter the Northcoast 24 Hour Endurance Run with me. In all of my past marathons, I had somehow been able to convince one, if not a handful, of my friends to also enter the run. But, this race was different – none of my friends wanted to do it, and they had every logical explanation not to. Occurring on a .9 mile loop, the race simply mandated that you cover as many laps as you can in a 24 hour period. Rules permitted runners to sleep, stop, and even leave the course and come back. However, serious racers know that this will only slow them down and so, going for 24 hours continuously is almost a given. These 24 hour events were physically, mentally, and emotionally brutal.
And this is why I knew Kyle would, not only agree to do it with me, but would enthusiastically join the race with me. In the relatively short time I’ve known Kyle, he has quickly become one of my best friends because we have such similar and complimentary personalities and characteristics. We began working together because of our shared dream of one day becoming Combat Rescue Officers – a career notoriously marked by superb physical fitness, high mental aptitude, and outstanding leadership skills. In him, I found qualities that I wanted solidify in myself and also expect of my military compatriots: exceptional self-discipline, high work ethic, attention to detail, and the desire to continuously push his/her limit.
This is why when Kyle told me he was splitting off because “at this rate, you’re pulling me to injury and I’m slowing you down,” I didn’t argue. I didn’t try and change his mind like I normally would with anyone else because I knew he must have been going through his mind for the last couple hours whether or not to have that difficult conversation. Kyle informed me that his hip was burning with pain at mile 30, and still, he pushed it 24 more miles – more than 5 hours at our pace – before splitting off. So, at 9:30 p.m., after covering every step of 54 agonizing miles together, we parted ways. When we separated, Kyle gave me a man-hug and told me, “Make me proud.” For the next 11.5 hours, as I ran through the cold, dark, wet, rainy night, that’s all I heard; Kyle telling me, “make me proud.” Even as my soaked shoes formed blisters on the bottoms of my feet so much that I could painfully feel every step I took, that’s all I heard. Even as my knee joints grinded together as if they were coated with sandpaper and my shins felt composed of compression fractures, those three words drove me all the way through the night.
At 8:34 am the next morning, more than 23.5 hours after the race started, I finally completed my 111th lap resulting in the 100th mile – the goal Kyle and I had both naively set weeks ago. Of the 108 people that started the race, only a handful was still going the next morning. The weather had convinced many people to stop and even brought several down with hypothermia. In any challenge a person enters, there’s usually a “wall” – a point where a things get so bad the person either chooses to quit or regroup his/her efforts and continue. In a race this long, I hit many, many walls. In particular, at mile 70, I severely wanted to drop out - it was 1 am, I had 30 miles to go, my feet felt broken, the temperature had dropped and it had begun to rain again. But, just like every other time, I heard Kyle’s voice, “make me proud,” and I had to continue. Those three words from my wingman were the reason I succeeded.
After Kyle and I separated, he took a small break. Then, he got back on the course and hobbled 2 more miles, bringing his final mileage to 56 before officially stopping. For a person who had never run more than 15 miles in a day in his life, 56 miles – two back to back marathons – was an astounding achievement, only accomplishable by those who have the highest mental fortitude.
They say to surround yourself with the type of people you want to be. And, in this regard, ROTC surely fits my bill. I’ve met many people like Kyle Cline who keep me along the right path, who motivate me, and who I can be sure to have a fun time with. The cadets here work much harder than your average college student, and simultaneously, screw around more than the average college student. We know when to work and when to play and that’s why we’ll be professionally successful and happy. I never wanted to come to Ohio State, but now that I’m here, I wouldn’t change it for anything else simply because of the people I’ve met.