News: Utah Guard hosts 2nd Annual Sapper Joe race
Story by Spc. Lyndsey Prax
The Utah National Guard and Wasatch Running Center hosted and sponsored the second annual Sapper Joe Trail Race at Camp Williams May 29.
At approximately 6 a.m., the thunder of an artillery cannon echoed through the main post and more than 150 runners dashed from the starting line toward Camp Williams’ rolling back country.
“I don’t think I’ve ever run a race that started with a cannon firing,” said Erik Jeppsen, the southern California native currently residing in Salt Lake City, who took first place in the Men’s 50K with a time of 4:22:21.
The Sapper Joe was started in 2009 as a 30K and 50K trail race, with the aim of getting the Utah National Guard more involved with the local community, as well as to provide a chance for members of the military to run side by side with friends, neighbors and loved ones, said Lt. Col. Alan Garrett, deputy base operations manager of Camp Williams.
This year a 15K trail race was added to the agenda to encourage more runners to participate.
“This race is a great way to give residents the opportunity to see areas of Utah normally closed off to the public as well as give them the chance to see what we (the Utah National Guard) do,” said Garrett.
To ensure the race ran smoothly, planning for Sapper Joe went into effect last October, Garrett said.
Soldiers from 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 65th Fires Brigade, 97th Troop Command, 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, 640th Regional Training Institute, Training Site Comman, the 23rd Army Band, and members of Wasatch Running Center sacrificed part of their Memorial Day weekend to ensure that the race was a success.
Together, they directed traffic, operated aid stations, entertained family, and most important, provided encouragement to runners throughout the course.
“The aid stations were consistent and stocked with all our needs,” said Jessica LaRoche, winner of the Women’s 50K with a time of 6:16:41. “I really appreciated the National Guard members taking time out of their Memorial Day weekend; it was inspiring to have their encouragement along the way.”
Jeppsen said the course markings of the race were the biggest difference from other trail races and contributed to his victory.
“I’ve run two other trail races and ran off course in both of them,” he said. “Here there were ribbons every 100 to 200 feet and signs and arrows at every intersection. I probably couldn’t have run off course even if I wanted to. It’s amazing how much faster you can finish without unnecessary detours.”
“This is the only race I’ve ever participated in that is run by the military, and it certainly had a different flavor than any other race,” said Sgt. Maj. Gary Barnes, operations sergeant major of 97th Troop Command. “It’s obvious a great amount of effort was put forth to make it a success.”
Barnes ran the 15K alongside his son Andrew, both finishing with a time of 2:13:10.
“We enjoy running trail races together, and I thought this would be a fun way to show my son what a beautiful training area Camp Williams is,” he said. “I enjoyed the climb up to the highest point and running along the ridgeline above the range complex. I got to see areas of Camp Williams I had only seen from the air.”
Other than sitting down at the finish line, Jeppsen said his favorite part of the race was running a long stretch between the first and third aid stations.
“I was alone at this point and I loved the rolling hills and beautiful mountains,” he said. “I never knew there was so much great land back in the base.”
Colonel Jerry Acton started training for Sapper Joe 30K after completing Utah’s Buffalo Run on Antelope Island in March. He was the second National Guard member to cross the finish line of the Men’s 30K with a time of 5:11:43.
“I knew there were going to be a lot of hills, so I was physically prepared for the race,” he said. “My goal was to finish in [4 hours, 30 minutes], so it took me a little longer than I thought it would. But I think I did well, and I plan on doing it again next year.”
“I hope to do this race every year, and I've told my running friends about it,” LaRoche added. “It really was one of the most well-organized events I've participated in.”
For complete race results visit the following Web site: www.fatpackracing.com/2010-sapper-joe-results.html