News: Runners go for Thanksgiving 'Turkey Trot' in Baghdad
Spc. Derek Del Rosario
Task Force Baghdad PAO
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq " Runners endured a brisk, chilly morning and began their Thanksgiving Day by participating in a Morale, Welfare and Recreation 5-kilometer Turkey Trot race.
The breath of runners rose through the cool air as some runners wore jackets and gloves while others bravely ran in shorts and T-shirts. All 75 participants finished the race that started shortly before sunrise.
The top finisher was Spc. Derrick Jackson, a mechanic in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 612th Engineering Battalion, with a time of 17 minutes, 45 seconds. The second-place finisher completed the Turkey Trot shortly after Jackson, but was such an enthusiastic runner that he kept on going after the run, and did not attend the awards presentation afterwards. The speedy civilian contract worker was only identified as "Kurt from Washington." Third place went to 2nd Lt. Peter Euler, a platoon leader with 546th Transportation Company, who finished in 18 minutes, 27 seconds.
With a time of 22 minutes, 8 seconds, Master Sgt. Silvia Marchan, 3rd Infantry Division's equal opportunity noncommissioned officer in charge, took first among the female runners. Second-place finisher Capt. Sarah Knudson, 504th Military Police Battalion, trailed Marchan by only one second. Third-place female was 1st Lt. Marietta Squire, B Company, 92nd Engineering Battalion, with a time of 23 minutes, 18 seconds.
The three fastest males and females were awarded T-shirts; first-place finishers in both categories additionally received gift cards, while the second-place male and female finishers received food certificates.
This was Jackson's sixth race since arriving in Iraq in January. A runner in college, he said he was happy with the win but there is still room for improvement. His races here in Iraq have helped improve his running as well as boost his morale, he added.
"I wanted to run in a low 17 (minute) time for this race, but ultimately I would like to get back to running in the 16s," Jackson said. "I think races like (the Turkey Trot) are a big morale booster for the troops. They definitely are a stress reliever for me -- participating also reminds me of home."
Marchan is an avid runner who also achieved first-place finishes in Camp Liberty's 4th of July and Labor Day races. Marchan said she was trailing Knudson most of the way, but was able to overcome her lead about half a mile before the finish.
"(Knudson) was really hauling butt the entire race, but I just stayed on pace and was able to pass her near the end," Marchan said. "I am happy with the race overall. We had a good turnout despite the (cold) weather, and it was good to run for what might be my last race (during Operation Iraqi Freedom 3)."
While there were many competitive runners participating in the Turkey Trot, some runners ran for unit morale, including 12 Soldiers from 30th Medical Brigade. "Thanksgiving is a time for family, and that's why we are all out here running together," said Maj. Jeffrey Yarvis, the brigade's civil military officer.