Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and his supermodel fiancee Kate Upton talk about the U.S. Marines and Detroit after Upton and other Tigers' wives and girlfriends participated in a tough Marine Corps 'Ruck.' Daniel Mears, The Detroit News
Detroit — Supermodel Kate Upton can deadlift more than 200 pounds, but an intense 13-minute workout with the Marines left her collapsed on the grass, dripping sweat, as she panted to catch her breath.
“That was very hard,” she said in an interview with The Detroit News after Gunnery Sgt. Sara Pacheco, a fitness instructor for the U.S. Marine Corps, led her and five other significant others of Detroit Tigers players in side straddle hops, walking lunges, toe touches and butt-kickers.
“I think that it was the nonstop. Normally, I like to take a little rest in between sets, but to keep going was a very difficult thing, but that’s what we’re out here promoting,” said Upton, 25. “The Marines put on a ruck of 100 pounds, and they’re going for 20 miles. They never stop, so it showed me that I have a long way to go before I ever put a ruck on my back.”
Upton, Allison Bell, Kelsey Fulmer, Janelle Presley, Blanca Vizquel and Kristin Wilson sported sneakers and spandex as they participated in the rigorous workout Tuesday on Wayne State University’s football field to promote Marine Week Detroit, which is being held Sept. 6-10.
About 700 Marines are expected to visit Detroit to participate in activities that honor the service of roughly 182,000 active Marines, 38,900 in the Reserves and their families. Since 2009, the Marines have chosen one city each year to hold the event, and this will be the first held in the Motor City.
During the week, Marines will visit schools and hospitals, and participate in more than 80 events. Each day will begin with reveille at 6 a.m. and end with “Taps” at 10 p.m. in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue. The public is also invited to join daily 7 a.m. workouts in Cadillac Square.
And don’t expect them to go easy on you. Pacheco, stationed in Quantico, Virginia, said this was the first group of celebrities she’s led through the workout.
“I think they did really well, actually,” Pacheco said. “They didn’t quit, they didn’t give up and they seemed to be having a lot of fun, despite how much they might have been in pain during it.”
Upton’s fiancé, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, watched on the sidelines with their 7-year-old dog, Harley.
As Upton started to struggle with toe touches, he yelled his encouragement, “Come on, Kate! Show them how!”
After, he joked that Harley is usually the one who works with Upton.
“He’s usually the motivation. Not me,” said Verlander, laughing.
Upton, a 25-year-old St. Joseph native, is known for her cover appearances on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. She’s also delved into acting and is co-starring in the comedy “The Layover,” released this month.
According to People, Upton works out five to six days a week with her trainer, Ben Bruno, to keep in shape.
She endured Tuesday’s workout to show her support for the Marines and Detroit-based Wins for Warriors Foundation, which Verlander started in 2016 to empower service members and veterans and to organize bonding activities for their families.
Proceeds from the Wins for Warriors’ Patriot Ruck Sept. 9 will benefit local military members and veterans. Participants will meet at Hart Plaza and put a weight on their back with a “rucksack” or backpack (military rucks are usually 75-100 pounds), as they walk along the riverfront. The event honors military members, veterans and first responders who served in 9/11.
“I wouldn’t be able to be here in this free nation playing America’s pasttime without these men and women,” Verlander said at the media-only event Tuesday. “So it started with just going over to saying hello to these men and women during a game, and it snowballed into Win for Warriors and trying to make a real difference and just trying to give back and help as much as I can.”
Upton added she loves participating in events that “welcome the military back home.”
“Showing how much you appreciate them by welcoming them into the community is a great thing to do, and we’re really excited the Marines chose Detroit to come this year,” she said.
Lt. Col. Brian Mulvihill of the Marine Corps said that all Marine Week Detroit events, including concerts from the Marine Corps band, will be free. During the culminating event Sept. 10, Marines will simulate the seizure of a barge along the Detroit River near Hart Plaza.
Mulvilll added the Marines appreciate the love from the Tigers pitcher and supermodel.
“Justin has shown nothing but support, not just to the Marine Corps in the southeast Michigan area, but all the armed services, and Kate jumped right in, too, and we’re happy and proud she did,” he said.
The Detroit Tigers will also honor the Marines during a game against the Kansas City Royals on Sept. 6. Gen.l Robert B. Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, will throw the ceremonial first pitch at Comerica Park.
As for the ladies who survived the burpees and pushups, they may not volunteer for another Marines workout anytime soon.
“I respected them before, but wooo, they got me today,” Kristin Wilson laughed.
Even 34-year-old Verlander, who goes through extensive workouts himself, gave the women a lot of credit.
“I think the most difficult part for me is knowing I’m going to have to deal with (Kate) later yelling at me for being so sore,” said Verlander, laughing, “but that was a heck of a workout.”