TIKRIT, Iraq - More than 300 Service members from across the Band of Brothers area of operations gathered this morning to pound the pavement for COB Speicher's first "Rock-n-Roll" Marathon and Half-Marathon.
The run, a first for COB Speicher, coincided with Nashville's annual Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon, one that several Division Soldiers participate in.
Runners warmed up and stretched out before taking off on their 13 and-a-half or 26-mile haul. Many participants were veteran marathoners, while others wanted to try something new and others got caught up in the hype within their units.
"I tried to get [my Soldiers] psyched up for this race," said Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Shockley, 136th Signal Detachment, Texas National Guard. "A lot of them didn't have time to train up for the full marathon, so they're running the half."
Shockley -- a 13-time marathoner -- said she feels running is a good way to stay in shape and enjoys the thrill of crossing the finish line after such a great distance.
Other runners had training on their minds throughout the race. Captain Scott Hamond, 101st Aviation Regiment, took first place in the men's half-marathon category. He noted, especially in the military, physical fitness is key and running is a great way to stay in shape.
The men's full marathon winner agreed. Captain Christopher, a Soldier in the BoB AO, said he enjoys running, often logging in more than 25 miles per week.
"I love doing long distance running," he said, adding that it gives him a way to escape and get away from daily stress. He also noted that Soldiers thinking of starting on the marathon path should set realistic goals for themselves and never quit trying.
Captain Renee Vigilante, fastest female marathoner, said she runs for the camaraderie, noting that her best friend from home had flown in from Balad to participate.
She also had a special goal in mind. After suffering a broken arm earlier in the year, Vigilante said she wanted to make a full recovery and run her fastest time yet. She also competed in last year's Country Music Marathon.
As the race wound down, finished runners clapped, cheered and high-fived others as they crossed the finish line -- many of whom were smiling and cheering themselves -- proud of their accomplishment and ready for the rest of the day.