Despite intense pain, Marine crawls across Boston Marathon finish line to honor fallen comrades

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BOSTON (WCVB/CNN VAN) — A U.S Marine pushed through intense pain to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon in an endeavor he undertook in honor of three men he met while serving in Afghanistan.

As Micah Herndon, of Tallmadge, OH, approached the finish line Monday at the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon, his legs locked up.

"Both my legs locked up, the worst pain I've ever experienced running," Herndon said.

Herndon was struggling, but with the historic finish line in sight, the Marine veteran refused to let his race be over.

He said his military training kicked in when he dropped to his hands and knees and crawled, at times pulling himself on his stomach, for the final 100 yards

"The mindset of a Marine, you finish it by yourself," he said.

As other runners stopped to help just feet from the end, Herndon pushed on alone, crawling on his hands and knees, in pain but determined to finish. He finally crossed the line with a time of three hours and 38 minutes and was immediately lifted into a wheelchair to receive medical assistance.

For Herndon, the marathon was more than just a physical feat. It was an endeavor he had undertaken in honor of three men he knew when he served in Afghanistan - Marines Mark Juarez and Matthew Ballard and British journalist Rupert Hamer - and finishing was a tribute to them.

"I run in honor of them," Herndon told the Record-Courier. "They are not here anymore. I am here, and I am able. I am lucky to still have all my limbs. I can still be active. I find fuel in the simple idea that I can run. Some cannot."

Juarez and Hamer were killed when a roadside bomb exploded in January 2010. Ballard, who was severely injured, died after returning home. Herndon was in that convoy, but his vehicle wasn't hit.

Herndon said that while running, whenever he feels like giving up, he just repeats his comrades' names. He also runs with tags on his shoes that list their last names.

Herndon, who was injured in another blast in 2010, got into running after coming home as a way to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, which he says has been eased.

"One way for me to deal with everything is to get in my own zone, my own headspace, and just go," Herndon said. "I will have setbacks in my life. I will go backwards, but it's how you respond going forward."

Even though his marathon finish time fell short of his goal, Herndon hopes his powerful display of determination can help inspire others who may be struggling.

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