Sailors Stories:  Marathon Man

Sid Busch, Senior Chief US Navy (Ret.)


Senior Chief Sid Busch, US Navy Ret., is a valued friend of ours and a real Patriot.  To Sid, every day is Memorial Day and a time to honor our Veterans, especially the Fallen Heroes.  Most weekends, Sid runs either a full marathon or half marathon, usually carrying a flag, to honor a fallen hero.  After the race, he makes a very emotional presentation of his finisher's medal to the family.  Sid has been heard to say "I have running shoes three times older than some of the kids I run for."

In addition to his marathon endeavors, (he's an extraordinary athlete), he continues to volunteer on the USS Clamagore at Patriots Point in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  It is one of the submarines on which he served.  He's been a frequent contributor to the site and a valued source.  

The first video was added for Memorial Day 2015 after completing a recent marathon in Frederick, Md.

The second video was added 1/24/12 when Sid went on a local TV station to talk about the Clamagore and the move of the Destroyer Laffey back to Patriots Point after its dry dock repairs.

The article below is a reprint from the 2011 Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival program.  The run takes place October 15, 2011 and this page details how and why he dedicates each marathon to a fallen hero and after the race presents his finisher's medal to the soldier's family. 

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Sid Busch spent 26 years on U.S. Navy submarines as a sonar technician. Patrolling off of Russia during  the height  of the Cold War, his command’s mission  was to covertly  monitor the enemy. The subs he was on carried more nuclear fire power  on them than any ship or aircraft  in U.S. history.

Busch said, “If we ever had to engage, then we didn't  do our job. Fortunately, we never had to go on the attack.”

In terms of exercise there are not many options  when you are on board a Navy sub for up to nine months  at a time. His typical  shift was six hours on watch and 12 hours off duty. A good portion  of his off time was consumed by putting  miles on the treadmill because it was practically  the only “entertainment” on the submarine.

How he got into long distance running on land was partially by accident, and partially because he was tested. In 1983 he ruptured a disc in his back, and he was facing a medical  discharge  from  submarine duty.

He made a deal with  his commanding officer  that if he could finish  a marathon, he could continue  on with  his career as a sonar technician. Busch would  go on to complete  his first-ever  marathon at the Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA in January  1984 and ultimately continued on with his Naval career before retiring in 1991.

He didn’t  retire from  running however.   Busch will  be competing in his 180th  career marathon, and fourth  Baltimore marathon, when he visits Charm City on October 15th. “The  things  I love about Baltimore the most are running through the scenic neighborhoods and the Inner Harbor and, believe it or not, the police officers  on the course. Typically  officers  just serve as traffic  control at marathons, but in Baltimore they are more like cheerleaders. I hope they know how much this helps propel runners  to the finish  line,” he said.

The Goose Creek, SC native runs about eight to ten marathons a year, with  an eye on completing at least 200. Starting  at 3AM he logs about 60-70 miles per week only taking Sundays off. As he has gotten older, Busch made the decision  to retire from  one thing….operating in stealth mode.

About  five years ago he decided to go from  20,000 leagues under the sea to shouting from  a mountain top about his new life mission.  He did some online  research and met a man named Roland Bower who started a movement called “Running in Honor of Fallen Heroes”  to help spread the word  about U.S. soldiers  who lost their lives during  battle.

Now Busch runs every marathon in honor  of a fallen hero. After the race, he hand delivers  his finisher’s medal to the soldier’s  family. In a soft and compassionate tone he said, “It’s a very emotional  experience, but I know how much it means to these soldiers’ families.”


(Top) Running veteran Sid Busch plans to complete career marathon #180 in Baltimore in honor of Cpl. Kurt Shea, USMC, who lost his life on May  10th, 2010 while  defending his country’s freedom in Helmand Province Afghanistan.

Kurt Shea








                 Cpl. Kurt Shea, USMC


The selection process is by no means a formal one. He researches local papers, and once a certain amount of time has passed, he reaches out to a soldier's family and shares his wish. Naturally it's too difficult for many families to endure. For those who do agree it becomes a way of keeping their son's or daughter's memories alive.

Even though Busch doesn't personally know the soldiers he is running for he is very much emotionally attached during every step of his journey. As a veteran himself, he knows the sacrifice it takes to defend one's nation and it pains him to see any U.S. soldier lose their life.

He's dedicating this year's Baltimore Marathon to Cpl. Kurt Shea, a U.S. Marine who lost his life at the age of 21 while defending his country's freedom in Afghanistan. The Shea's reside in Frederick, Maryland. Busch hopes to form a group of runners for the 2012 Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival who will join his public awareness movement. But his ultimate wish is for the list of fallen soldiers to choose from permanently stops growing.

Busch concluded, "I just wish I could run with them instead of for them. In the meantime I will run until my body falls apart."

Related page: slide show of the USS Clamagore