News: North Dakota Guardsmen Compete in National Guard Marathon -- On Site in Nebraska, Off Site in Kosovo
FARGO, N.D. — The North Dakota National Guard Marathon Team competed at the 33rd Annual Lincoln National Guard Marathon this weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska as their comrades in Kosovo did the same from afar.
North Dakota's Marathon Team comprised three of the 8,000 runners in the races in Lincoln on Sunday, 1,154 of which ran and finished the full marathon. Another 70 or so Guardsmen in Kosovo, many of whom hail from North Dakota, ran their own National Guard Marathon or half-Marathon at Camp Bondsteel. The top finishers in both marathons are eligible to qualify for the National Guard Marathon Team.
Lt. Col. David Skalicky, of Bismarck, said that the Camp Bondsteel community banded together with a world-class effort, ensuring the first-ever National Guard Marathon run outside the United States was a huge success.
"The support that was put together on base was some of the best support I've seen in any race," said Skalicky, who placed third in the men's division in Kosovo with a time of 3:59.38. "There were fruit and water stations set up about every two miles. If I started getting hot or needed a break or needed, some energy, there was a water station in sight. There was a good crowd at both the beginning and the end. It was really a great event."
The Lincoln track team decided to sponsor the Kosovo event, resulting in free registration for the participants, as well as shirts and medals engraved with "Camp Bondsteel 2010" for the finishers. Sgt. 1st Class Mike Hagen, National Guard Marathon coordinator in Lincoln, also offered trophies to the top three Kosovo finishers in both male and female divisions.
While Skalicky was the only North Dakotan in the top three male finishers in Kosovo, female North Dakota Soldiers swept all top three spots in their division. Capt. Anna Wittrock, of Moorhead, Minn., won with a time of 4:13.38. She was followed by Sgt. Jesica Geffre, Bismarck, at 4:24.19, and third-place finisher Staff Sgt. Kim Lohse, Windom, Minn., at 5:14.18.
North Dakota's team that traveled to Nebraska included Senior Master Sgt. Wade Swenson and 2nd Lt. Robert D. Meland, both first-year team members, and Senior Airman Adam Krueger, a two-year member and team captain.
Swenson, 44, of Fargo, works as a meteorological technician with the 119th Operations Support Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard. He completed the marathon in 4:25.41, putting him 746th overall and 74th out of 91 male runners in his age division. He's been a fan of endurance sports, having run 13 marathons, a 20-mile ultramarathon and 10 varying distance triathlons.
Meland, 26, of Fargo, ran it in 3:34.57, a time that earned him 227th overall and 30th out of the 88 male runners in his age division. This was the second marathon competition for the Soldier who serves with the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper) of the North Dakota Army National Guard.
Krueger, 29, produced the best North Dakota time, running the 26.2 miles in 3:22.11. That placed the Moorhead, Minn., runner 17th out of the 88 male runners in his age division and 135th overall against the 1,154 runners. Krueger, who serves in the North Dakota Air National Guard, has competed in numerous triathlons of varying distances, as well as four marathons, although his time this weekend was short of his personal record time.
"The race went great! Everyone finished from North Dakota, so we were happy with that," Krueger said.
The winner of the Lincoln National Guard Marathon hails from South Dakota; Matt Hoyt won the 33rd annual race in 2:38.32. In Kosovo, the first runner across the finish line for the full marathon was Sgt. Luke J. Mostoller, of Las Vegas, with a time of 3:28.18.
The hilly Kosovo course actually extended a little farther than a standard marathon — 26.6 miles —with the minimum and maximum elevations varying by 200 feet.
Skalicky, who helped coordinate the Camp Bondsteel event, and is now a veteran of seven marathons said, "This is by far the hardest course I will ever run a marathon on."
For other North Dakotans, it was their first-ever marathon. Two of those first-timers were Spc. Justin Quinlen and Spc. Nicole Frohlich.
"It's a great accomplishment," said Quinlen, a motor pool sergeant from Bismarck. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would run or finish, but I'm glad that I did it."
Frohlich, an administrative specialist from Mandan, N.D., said she never thought she would run a marathon.
"I'm sore now, but once the pain goes away the bragging rights will be worth it," she said.