News: Runners become sapper strong/926th Engineer Brigade holds final run of Sapper Run Series
By Spc. Anthony Hutchins
926th Engineer Brigade
CAMP LIBERTY – With the early morning pre-dawn light runners from around Multi-National Division – Baghdad came out for the final run in the Sapper Run Series, Oct. 12, 2008. For the past two months runners had come together at the 926th Engineer Brigade to show their sapper strong skills.
The fun runs, which gradually got longer, tested the runner's endurance, heart, determination, and strength. The Sapper Run Series started with a 4.6 kilometer run and ended with a half marathon. Those that competed and completed the tests could proudly say that they were sapper strong.
Runners came together, Aug. 17, 2008, for the first of the series of fun runs, the 4.6 km. The 4.6 km. was sponsored by the 46th Engineer Combat Battalion out of Fort Polk, La. The second run was an 8.9 km., sponsored by the 890th Engineer Battalion out of Gulf Port, Miss. People from all different levels of running fitness came together for each fun runs. The third run was a 9.26 mile run and was sponsored by the 926th Engineer Brigade out of Montgomery, Ala.
Most people ran or power walked while three Soldiers did something else, they 'rucked' it. Maj. Joseph Cox, S3 chief of Operations, 1st Lt. Stephen Gress assistant S3 Operations, and Staff Sgt. Eric Croley, Medical Operations non-commissioned officer in charge of the 926th Engineer Brigade loaded their rucksacks with 40 to 50 pounds and rucked all four runs.
"I am looking to backpack part of the Appalachian Trail when I return home and this was training," Croley, stated.
Many Soldiers made it their personal goal to complete all four races.
"The Sapper Series Runs gave me goals, goals that I tried to reach and that kept my mind off of the deployment," said Maj. Jeffrey Hopkins, intelligence officer, 926th Engineer Brigade. "It was an event that will always be remembered."
"The runs got me in shape and I learned that I could run further than I ever thought I could." said Hopkins.
One Soldier felt pride when completing a run.
"Everyone had a feeling of accomplishment and a feeling of pride no matter where they came in" said Staff Sgt. Shonda Wright, personnel non-commissioned officer with 926th Engineer Brigade.
For each of the events there were more than 500 participants. On the final run, the half marathon, as runners ran across the finish line they were greeted with a medal and a "Survivor's t-shirt," a testament to their abilities. Navistar Defense, LLC donated the medals that runners received as they crossed the finish line. Beasley, Allen, P.C. out of Montgomery, Ala. donated the Sapper Run shirts.
The overall winners of the Sapper Run Series received brigade coins and plaques from Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, commander, 926th Eng. Bde., Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Zebrauskas, senior enlisted leader for the brigade.
Capt. Hunter Smith, of the Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B, was the overall winner with an overall time of 3:09.15. Sgt. Melinda Boatner, of Co. B. DSTB, 4th Inf. Div., was the overall female winner with an overall time of 4:03.10.
When it was all said and done each runner left that day knowing that they possessed the ability to do anything they set their minds to. Many runners came across the line with smiles across their faces. Many runners found camaraderie with the other runners whether they were Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines or civilians. With the runs completed runners found that they were Sapper strong.