An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Larry Irsik, left, a manpower officer and deputy G-1 for 3d Marine Division, and Master Sgt. Crystal Thornock, career planner for 3d Marine Division, pose for a photo before their island-long trek at Cape Kyan, Okinawa, Japan, March 30, 2023. Irsik and Thornock ran from the southernmost to northernmost tips of the island of Okinawa, running 84 miles over a course of 23 hours. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Evelyn Doherty)

Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Evelyn Doherty

Long range assets: Marines with 3d Marine Division race across Okinawa in one day

13 Apr 2023 | 2nd Lt. Duncan McClain, 3d Marine Division 3rd Marine Division

OKINAWA, JAPAN- Two Marines with 3d Marine Division undertook the herculean effort to travel from the southernmost to the northernmost tip of the island of Okinawa – all on foot.
Maj. Larry Irsik, a manpower officer and deputy G-1 for 3d Marine Division, and Master Sgt. Crystal Thornock, career planner for 3d Marine Division, are no strangers to ultra-distance runs. Side-by-side, they have completed runs of up to 40 miles to prepare, with a history of training together long before arriving on the island.
Irsik, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, dreamed about this island-spanning adventure before even moving to Okinawa, getting his inspiration while he was at his previous duty station, Camp Johnson, in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
“I was sitting there on duty, and there was a video on repeat that was talking about Okinawa and all the things Marines could do there, and in one part of the video they talked about the dimensions of the island itself,” said Irsik. “I thought, ‘wow that’s kinda small,’ and then immediately, ‘wow I could run that.’ I was thinking that if I was going to be stationed there for three years, that could be my introduction to ultramarathon running.”
Fast forward a few years, and the dream was turning into a reality as Irsik and Thornock found themselves at Cape Kyan on the morning of March 30, preparing to begin the long-anticipated unrelenting 84-mile journey through the downtown streets of Naha, along the western coast of the island, and finishing at Cape Hedo on the island’s northern edge.
Thinking of their journey ahead, to include the physical struggles that come with running for 24 hours straight, they knew they would have to contend with a substantial amount of mental fatigue. Long after the sun went down, they would have to persevere until the next sunrise.
“I think nighttime is going to be the worst… just because every step is unsure,” said Thornock just before starting. “When it’s dark, you’re dealing multiple emotions, uncertainty, the distance, and fatigue.”
Both Marines cited their families as a major inspiration for undertaking such a daunting task, desiring to set the example as resilient role models when the end seemed unreachable.
“I think every run brings out a new part of you, because you have dig into who you are as a person, and sometimes that’s both the good and the bad. I know sometimes I’m watching the Marines and they’re struggling, and I say you just have to find the demon you want to conquer today; you have to find what motivates you to push,” said Thornock. “For me, as a mother, that’s typically my kids. They drive a lot of my actions and I push through because I want to them to see that you can do things, even if it hurts.”
Every mile past 40 was a new personal record for the duo. However, almost two-thirds of the way through, Thornock was forced to head home due to family circumstances. Irsik pressed on alone but with the same level of dedication.
“Alone, you're truly faced with the only enemy that counts … that inner me. Go into that pain cave alone, make it out alone, and you’re sure to have added upon your mental resilience in a way you might not have gotten (otherwise),” said Irsik.
After 22 hours and 55 minutes, Irsik met his wife and two daughters at the finish line at Cape Hedo, who ran the last hundred feet with him. After completing this challenge, Irsik is already looking ahead to how he can test himself next.
“If you are always relying on those accomplishments that you did a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, or even yesterday, well those don't really matter,” said Irsik. “Being resilient and not leaning on yesterday's accomplishments is certainly a thread in fabric of Caltrap Marines because the adversary does not care what you did yesterday – only what you're capable of doing today.”