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    173rd Paratroopers support and run in local Italian marathon

    Sky Soldiers run in local Italian marathon

    Photo By Maj. Robyn Haake | U.S. Army paratroopers with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173rd...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Robyn Haake 

    173rd Airborne Brigade

    VICENZA, Italy – U.S Army paratroopers or “Sky Soldiers” from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment “The Rock” recently volunteered to assist the city of Vicenza with preparing for the annual Vicenza Ultrabericus race and participated in the actual race on March 18, 2023.

    The Sky Soldiers spent several of their weekends clearing vegetation from running trails and marking the race route. On race day, more than two dozen Rock members and their families helped set up the race, assisted in managing the event and handed out the finisher medals and prizes at the end.

    The Vicenza Ultrabericus trail race begins and ends in the Piazza dei Signori, moves up Mount Berico, and South through the hills of Berici. This year there was more than 4,000 runners, 16 of those were from The Rock.

    The event encompasses multiple races: the "Integrale" (65 km / 40.4 miles), the "him and her" relay (65km split between a couple), the "Marathon" (43 km / 26.2 miles), and the "Urban" (21 km / 13.1 miles, to name a few. The Rock had runners who tackled the Urban, Marathon, and Integrale races.

    Sgt. Miguel Cervantes, a member of the Rock and an enthusiastic marathon runner, prepared the course on his weekend time and chose to run the race.

    “I thought that the volunteer work would be a good way to contribute to the community here in Vicenza. As I was doing the volunteer work, I asked if I could participate in the marathon, and they gave me a slot.’

    Sgt. Cervantes is no stranger to marathons in Italy.

    “I’ve done a couple marathons in Italy. I did an ultra-marathon in Milan, which was 150 miles from Milan to the coast of Italy. I love doing them over here. The weather is amazing, the views, the sites, the whole environment…it’s just indescribable.”

    Helping to enable an event like this is just one of many ways that 173rd Airborne units independently build and maintain relationships with their partnered Italians communities.

    U.S Army Garrison Italy maintains a Community Alliance Program (CAP) to engage with the Italian communities to increase awareness and appreciation for the surrounding areas, promote the U.S. Military’s mission in a positive manner, and foster a strong relationship and sense of common purpose within the surrounding areas.

    As part of the continuous CAP efforts in the Vicenza Military Community, each battalion in the 173rd Airborne Brigade is partnered with at least one local Italian community. The 173rd’s two units stationed in Germany are also partnered with German communities. Every battalion command team coordinates engagements with their corresponding local leaders to be inclusive of each other’s culture and events.

    Lt. Col. Kevin Ward, the Battalion Commander of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment “The Rock” likes to experience the running routes of every country he goes to. With the added value of improving community relations, he truly enjoys running in Italy.

    "A local race is a wonderful way to bring a community together in shared camaraderie and healthy pursuits. The paratroopers and families of The Rock are honored to support any event that highlights the affability of our hosts and the splendor of the city in which we all live. From ancient roman roads to 16th century architecture, to the breathtaking panorama in the Coli Berici, this race is a reminder of why it is so special to be stationed in Vicenza."

    The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army's Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deployable forces to the United States European, African, and Central Command areas of responsibility. Forward deployed across Italy and Germany, the brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build partnerships and strengthen the alliance.



    Date Taken: 03.18.2023
    Date Posted: 03.18.2023 12:37
    Story ID: 440698
    Location: VICENZA, IT 

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