6.13.2012

Law Student, Coast Guardsman Runs for Heroes

When most people take up running and decide to enter a race, it's usually in the 5k to 10k range—maybe even a half or full marathon for the truly ambitious. But Regent University School of Law student Marshall Griffin took his long distance running about 500,000 steps further to complete a 260 mile ultra-marathon across the state of Georgia this May.

Griffin was one of just eleven individual runners and 13 relay teams to complete the feat Memorial Day Weekend. Organized to benefit House of Heroes, a non-profit organization that provides home maintenance and repair for elderly and impaired veterans, the 2012 Run for the Heroes began on May 24, in Columbus, Ga., and finished May 27, in Savannah, Ga.

"I was attracted to the race first, and then learned about the charity," Griffin said. Fundraising for House of Heroes was optional, but once Griffin got involved, he chose to set a goal. "I felt like [House of Heroes] was doing some good work, so I decided to try to raise money for them and was pretty successful doing so," he said. Griffin raised $2,335 for the organization, far surpassing their $1500 goal.

"House of Heroes goes in and fixes the houses of elderly veterans—most of them are combat wounded or have seen combat—who don't have the means or the physical capability to keep their home in good order," he explained. The Columbus-based charity often installs wheelchair ramps and handicap accessible amenities in veterans' homes as a way of saying thanks for their service.

Coming to the decision to run wasn't as easy as getting the time off work and lacing up some running shoes. "There was quite a bit of prayer involved in this race," Griffin admitted. As he trained for the long race, Griffin was also working through his tough first year as a law student. "God gave me the strength to do it," he said.

Griffin's position as an active duty Coast Guardsman should also have been a hindrance, but it wasn't. "I said, let's just give this to the Lord and see what He does," Griffin said. "One by one, all those barriers just went away and it became evident that this is what God wanted us to do and that He would provide a way for us to do it."

The five days Griffin spent on the road were hot and taxing, as he covered about 52 miles a day through sparsely populated areas in a humid southern climate. But he found inspiration to finish strong in the other runners and in his crew.

Griffin has only been running ultras for three years, but he's up to running four or five of them each year. So far this year, he's run the Shamrock Marathon, a 50k race and the Run for the Heroes. "A lot of people say that's crazy," Griffin said, "But anybody that wants to do this kind of running can do it. It's just a matter of want and training."

Griffin is currently on orders to attend law school through the Coast Guard. When it came time to choose a school, he wasn't convinced Regent was for him until a fellow Coast Guardsman and Griffin's pastor convinced him of the need for Christian lawyers. "You think you know what's good for you, but the Lord will consistently say, 'Pay attention. I've got something so much better,'" Griffin said.

Griffin lives in Virginia Beach with his wife Natalie and their three boys age 9, 6 and 4.

By Amanda Morad