News: Early-Rising Soldiers Compete in 5K Run in Iraq
Spc. Derek Del Rosario
Task Force Baghdad PAO
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq -- Soldiers were up early to race the sunrise during the 3rd Infantry Division "Rock of the Marne" 5-kilometer run Aug. 7.
About 60 runners participated in the race organized by the 3rd Infantry Division in conjunction with the Morale, Welfare and Recreation department. Participants started and finished at the base of what is known as the camp's "Signal Hill."
Runners were separated by gender and four age brackets: 17-20, 21-27, 28-39 and 40 and older. Top finishers in each category received T-shirts and Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift cards. The first-place finishers in each category also received a certificate of achievement signed by Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., Task Force Baghdad commander.
It was the fourth race Sgt. 1st Class Belinda Rhanes, noncommissioned officer in charge of 3rd Inf. Div. MWR and a Brunswick, Ga., native, helped organize. Each race has been a privilege for her.
"I get a lot of joy in seeing Soldiers coming out and participating like this," Rhanes said. "Most of these people come out to run, just to runâ?¦it is a good morale booster."
One participant, Staff Sgt. Jeff Farris of B Battery, 1st Battalion, 126th Field Artillery and a Milwaukee, Wis., native, used the opportunity as a training tool for a race he plans to participate in during his Environmental Morale Leave.
"I am very happy with my (race) time. Here at Camp Liberty, I run twice a day, and I will usually run twice around the lake. It is a good training opportunity because I plan to run in the Lake Front Marathon when I return home next month," Ferris said.
Ferris" training as he recorded a personal best 5K time at 20 minutes. 42 seconds.
The top honor however, went to Staff Sgt. David Bice, 206th Engineering Company and a Frankfurt, Ky., native, whose time of 17 minutes, 5 seconds was the overall best time of the race. Bice was participating in his fourth race in theater.
"I love to run so it was no big deal. I race for health and fitness," Bice said. "I like to run marathons. My biggest aspiration is to run a marathon in New York City."
The top honor in the female bracket went to 2nd Lt. Tammy Lancaster, 108th Military Police Company and a Rowlett, Texas, native, who finished with a time of 22 minutes, 42 seconds.
Despite the accomplishment, Lancaster feels there is room for personal improvement.
"I felt I was slow for what I'm used to. I can usually run 5K in under 22 minutes," Lancaster said. "As a marathoner, I am running all the time to get faster. I think races like these are good, especially for competitive runners."
While races like the "Rock of the Marne" 5K can be a good training opportunity for competitive runners, Ferris feels it is also a good break from the daily grind.
"Races like these are definitely a morale booster," Ferris said. "It's a get-away from our daily job and it is an excellent stress reliever. I plan to participate in more races in the future."
"We try to have a race every month," Rhanes said. "Since we first started the runs in March, we have noticed an increase in Soldier participation."