News: Armed Forces well represented in Great Aloha Run
Story by Kristen Wong
AIEA, Hawaii — On President’s Day morning at Aloha Stadium, eager photographers clicked away, documenting the first few runners to complete the 27th Annual Great Aloha Run, including a sweaty
Staff Sgt. Tyler Hubbard, decked out in red and white, the letters “USMC” across his chest.
The substance abuse control SNCO and safety manager for Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii completed the 8.15-mile course at 44:58, just within five seconds of his personal goal, and received second place in the military elite awards.
“Beautiful weather for a 13K, can’t ask for anything better than this,” Hubbard said.
For the native of Grass Valley, Ore., this was a unique race, because he has been used to races that start and finish in the same place. Hubbard was just one of more than 20,000 runners participating in the run, which began at Aloha Tower Marketplace.
As the runners filed in with smiles and triumphantly raised arms, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band kicked off the stadium celebration with a series of classic rock tunes.
Although the Sounds of Freedom, which invites units to run in formation, did not include Corps cadence this year, the 21st Dental Company represented MCB Hawaii in the formation run.
“It’s hard to keep everybody in formation with seven of us,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Arturo Quintinita, senior enlisted leader of 21st Dental Company.
Quintinita, who ran his fourth Great Aloha Run, said he participates for fun, camaraderie and for his team. He encouraged his wife and children to join him, to no avail, but he hopes they will next year.
Other MCB Hawaii personnel could be spotted within the crowd, including members of Marine Corps Air Station and Patrol Squadron 47.
Some service members are veteran runners, like Staff Sgt. Justin
Wistinghausen, Electronic Key Management System and personnel
security manager, Remain Behind Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 3. Wistinghausen, 27, who came in at 1:26:36, has participated in at least 25 different runs including the Honolulu Marathon.
Pvt. Chris Zeffiro, rifleman, 2nd Platoon, 3rd Marine Regiment, came
in at 1:09:19. The 30-year-old native of Olbridge, N.J., ran with his wife and said he was glad to see so many people volunteering at the race.
Not far behind him was Sgt. Jeffrey Tang, non-commissioned officer in charge, Traffic Management Office, Camp H.M. Smith, who came in at 1:17:13.
Although he didn’t quite reach his goal of an hour and 10 minutes, and battled post-race leg pain, he said he still had fun. The 24-year-old Honolulu native enjoys running, and has participated in the Great Aloha Run since high school.
Numerous participants came to the run prepared for the trek. Tang made sure to eat a lot of carbohydrates, and ran six miles daily, while Zeffiro and his wife regularly went to the gym, and avoided a heavy dinner the prior evening. Several service members even went the extra mile on race day; wearing boots, full camouflage uniform and carrying gear.
Army Staff Sgt. Marc Dibernardo, a mechanic for Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, out of Schofield Barracks, crossed the finish line with a time of 57:03, while wearing a gas mask. Dibernardo, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said he wore the restrictive mask in honor of his fellow service members fighting in Afghanistan.
“They’re dealing with 10 times worse conditions,” Dibernardo said.
Also showing their support for the run was the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Kailua resident Ezz Tawfik, enrolled in Marine Corps JROTC at Castle High School, ran the Great Aloha Run for the first time this year. He reached his goal of finishing the race in less than an hour, though he was unsuccessful in his attempt to beat the gentleman running in front of him during the race. He felt the run was good for both people who wanted to run and those who chose to walk instead.
The Great Aloha Run has been an annual tradition for more than 20
years. Proceeds from the run go toward multiple community organizations.