CONTENGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq — Six camels lined up at the starting block in a camel race organized by British military personnel at Contingency Operating Base Basra April 18.
As the derby began, teams cheered and shouted as loud as they could for their camels, trying to urge them on. "Go Chuck, go!" shouted one team, sitting nervously on the edge of their seats.
It was neck and neck for some camels, as others remained in the starting block.
The race dwindled to two teams; one made up of British officers and the other of American enlisted personnel, and was settled by just a few feet. With a last-gasp effort, the American team's camel, Chuck Norris, made a sprint to the finish line to win the race in dramatic fashion.
There was no prize for the winning animal, however, as this "race" didn't involve actual camels.
The event, organized by British forces to raise money for wounded British Soldier charities such as the British Royal Legion and Benevolent Funds, took place on a large playing surface resembling a board game. The camel pieces stood knee-high and the die was as big as a basketball. Teams bid to roll a die and move their camels down the board. The first to the finish line won.
Although many U.S. personnel showed up expecting an actual race, they said they had a good time.
"I was expecting real camels," said Sgt. John Vinson of A Company, 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion. "But once I thought about it, it made sense why there weren't real animals."
According to British Cpl. Dean Weatherby, 5th Rifles, Delta Company, Regiment Signals Detachment commander, more than $1,500 was raised at this event, twice as much as the first race held in February.