News: What Better Way to Spend a Saturday Morning...
Story by Spc. Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - There aren't many flat surfaces in U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, but many runners who had partaken in the half marathon on May 10 probably wish there were.
"This was a challenging course, more so than other races I've done," said Kirstin Wier. "I'm not used to running [a course] with so many hills."
The race started around 6 a.m. at Denich Gym, long before the sun was even of a mind to rise. This enabled the 75 participants to get a good start on the 13.1 mile run before it got too hot and humid. As done with previous half marathons, there was the opportunity for runners to sign up in teams. For this race, Audrey Chapman, the Morale, Wellness and Recreation Fitness coordinator, decided that teams of two would best suit this race.
"This way we get more participation and involvement," she explained." "Not everyone wants to run 13.1 miles!"
The route consisted of trekking up and down the seemingly endless hills on Sherman Avenue leading to Cable Beach and back, then continuing all the way to the Navy Hospital on Caravella Point Road. A couple detours were added to spice things up, including running the loop around Phillip's Dive Park, around the back of the Navy Exchange and McDonald's, and the circle around the hospital.
Even though this route might seem as one that only a professional marathon runner could complete, there were participants of all ages with wide degrees of running experience.
"It was a great race, perfect for beginners and intermediates," said Paul Cartin. "I hope they have more – it will definitely keep me training."
The first place male finisher, Chris Datejaratsri, ran the route in 1:32.12, with Joe Glueckert finishing close behind with 1:32.52. Mario Perez placed third with a just-as-fast time of 1:34.12. For the females, Wier finished first with a time of 1:39.15, followed by Melissa Belleman finishing in 1:43.26 and Kimberly Higdon with 1:55.38. The team results are as follows: 1st place, 1:33.32; 2nd place, 1:50.22; and 3rd place, 1:57.06.
The award ceremony immediately followed the race, and NEX certificates were given to the top three finishers in each category: $100 to the first-place winners, $75 to second place and $50 to third place. All other participants received MWR T-shirts, water bottles and bleacher seats.
"This was a very good turnout," Chapman said.
Troopers and civilians who missed out on this race have another chance to participate in a half marathon this coming fall. For additional practice, there is a 5K coming up in June, and a 4th of July 4-mile run.
Glueckert offered advice for anyone who wants to start training for a running event of any caliber.
"You just have to keep increasing your running distance," he said. "You get out as much as you put in."