News: Runners surrounded by camaraderie on Turkey Day
Story by Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler
KABUL, Afghanistan -- What do you get when you mix Afghanistan dust, a few turkeys and more than 220 coalition service members and civilians? The answer is the Tamarac Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K race.
Although there weren’t any real turkeys at the race, held at Kabul International Airport, there was plenty of holiday spirit on this Thanksgiving Day run. Racers showed up sporting turkey-feather decorated reflective belts, turkey hats and even a Native American head dress.
“We may look ridiculous, but we are just here to have fun,” joked Cpt. Angela Perkins, who raced with her co-workers from the Combined Joint Psychological Operations Task Force.
The race started on a chilly morning, before the sun rose above the mountain surrounding KAIA, and welcomed racers from 13 different countries, including Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic and Romania, to name a few.
The satellite race was organized by Lt. Col. Jonathan LaRonde, Information Dominance Center Production Chief at IJC and a Dripping Springs, Texas, native. Even though LaRonde isn’t from Tamarac, a Florida town of about 60,000 people, he has had a tie to it since 2009.
“On my last deployment to Iraq, I was approached by a soldier who wanted some help publicizing a satellite race from their hometown, Tamarac. I helped out, and we had a great turnout there,” LaRonde explained. “When I deployed this time, I knew I wanted to do three races before my tour ended… and I thought it would be pretty cool to have to done this one in Iraq and, now, in Afghanistan.”
But it wasn’t just a personal goal that drove LaRonde to organize the race, it was the holiday season, which LaRonde feels is the best time to get people together.
“I think holiday races are important because it builds camaraderie on a day that you can’t be with your family back home,” said LaRonde.
With the help of the U.S. National Support Element, as well as 25 other volunteers from around KAIA, the race went off without a hitch.
For some, like Perkins and her turkey-clad colleagues, the race was about having fun but, for others, it was a chance to push themselves physically.
British Army Cpl. Anthony Katamba, an administration specialist with Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, used the Trot as a way to improve his running time. Katamba, whose family is from Uganda, came to the race with the goal of finishing in 19:00. He finished in 18:23, earning the top male runner’s slot and a new personal best.
“I did better than I thought,” said Katamba, “…and I enjoyed it. This is the biggest number of people I have ran with, and it was quite good.”
Katamba has competed in four other races since arriving to KAIA in July— he has won all four.
“My hope was for everyone to have a good time and enjoy their Thanksgiving, and I really think they did that this morning,” LaRonde said.