News: Deployed service members, civilians compete in Army 10-Miler shadow run
Story by Capt. Michelle Lunato
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – More than 500 deployed service members and civilians participated in a shadow run of the Army 10-Miler here Oct. 17.
The event, hosted by the Vermont National Guard’s 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team here, was one of six official shadow runs held in Afghanistan.
The official Army 10-Miler is the largest annual 10-mile race and is held along the scenic streets of Washington, D.C. Runners in Bagram’s shadow run had to trade views of the Pentagon and the Washington Monument for tactical vehicles and perimeter fences. However, the change in scenery did not change the motivation for running, said many participants.
“I love competition ... not necessarily against everyone else; but I suppose it's the challenge of training and working hard to set personal records and then being able to look back and see how I've improved,” said Atlanta resident U.S. Army 1st Lt. Emile Hawkins Jr., fusion cell project officer, 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade.
Outside of supporting fitness goals, the Army 10-Miler has another mission: to build esprit de corps.
In the coalition environment of Bagram, unified teamwork is critical, and the shadow run is one way to show the true meaning of teamwork, said Columbia, S.C., resident Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cynthia Thomas, enterprise system administrator, Joint NetOps Control Center–Afghanistan, 359th TTSB. “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results, and without teamwork, we cannot succeed here.”
Being able to run with co-workers rather than random strangers was definitely a bonus, said the shadow run’s first place male runner, Auburn, Calif., resident U.S. Army Spc. Michael Burham, military intelligence system maintainer, 1st Military Intelligence Battalion. “It helps immensely with the morale. It also helps break the monotony here.”
As the 10-Miler was a way to break up the repetitiveness of deployment for some, it was a way to bring a sense of home to others.
“I try to compete in the 10-Miler every year, said Moorehead, Miss., resident U.S. Army Maj. Marilyn Walls, commander, 510th Human Resources Company. And after completing in more than 10 races, competing while deployed was just like being at home, she said. “It helps me have a sense of normalcy here.”
The Army 10-Miler has become a staple event for many people throughout the years. The inaugural run featured 1,600 registered runners (including 105 teams) in 1985. By 2009, the 10-Miler had grown to 21,524 race finishers (including 759 teams). The race has traditionally included people from several nations as well. Some of the top winners in the past have been from Brazil and Africa.
The multi-national nature of the event was not lost at the Bagram shadow run either. Runners from Bosnia, Pakistan, Russia and Korea could be seen along-side the deployed soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, sailors, airmen, Department of Defense civilians, and contractors.
The coalition presence was meaningful, said Jacksonville, Fla., resident U.S. Army Sfc. Joshua Friedbauer, parachute rigger, Combined Joint Special Forces Operation Task Force – Afghanistan. “In the states you are running for yourself. Here, you are running for your country.”
Although the run had to be re-routed due to force protection measures at the last minute, runners ran just over eight miles. The winners are Michael Burham from Task Force Condor with 50:19 and Capt. Ronnee Farrell of Task Force Workhorse with 57:52.