CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - On a crisp autumn Sunday morning, over a hundred service members deployed throughout the Balkans gathered, they talked about work, their families and their goals for the day. As they pinned the red and blue numbers to the front of their shirts, many wondered what they had gotten themselves into. They stood jogging in place, jumping up and down at the start line. On your mark, get set, GO!
Over 114 service members came to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, Sunday to participate in the Army Ten-Miler Shadow run held here.
Some traveled from the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, while others came from the various camps located throughout Kosovo, to run together and motivate one another.
Every October, tens of thousands of people crowd the streets of Washington. to participate in the second-largest 10 mile race in the U.S. The race has grown in size and notoriety over the last 28 years, and has spread to Army bases worldwide.
The race, held annually since 1985, was founded with the intent of promoting the Army, building esprit de corps, supporting Army fitness goals, and enhancing community relations. Shadow runs take place in conjunction with the main event, wherever there is an interest. This year, official shadow runs were held throughout Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Kosovo and Egypt, with unofficial runs taking place elsewhere.
In Kosovo, it provides a chance for the multinational community to come together in a different way. Private 2nd Class Arkadiusz Paciejewski, a soldier from the Polish Army deployed to Kosovo as part of the NATO peace-keeping mission here, ran the race with an injured knee, but was happy that he did it.
“Tomorrow I will be sore and aching, but today it was a pleasure to run,” he said. “I have met so many people, made so many friends here today. I have been motivated by so many people, and I have been thanked by so many people for motivating them. There is a girl from Sweden, and she said, thank you. She told me thank you for motivating me. So it was a pleasure for me to run, it was a pleasure for me to run with everyone.”
He said that being out here gave everyone who participated a chance to get stronger, to push themselves to their limits.
“Every run makes you stronger, every time I run, I run more and more kilometers, more distance. When I went to the army I was running three kilometers, it was part of our exams. After that, they said to me, you are running good, so let’s run more, so then it was five kilometers, then six, then eight kilometers in the mountains. I am motivating myself. I suppose. It is successful for me, because I am getting better.“
Paciejewski said that running is a good sport for anyone to set self-measurable goals for themselves. The reason he has seen success with his running is that he runs for himself, he sets his own goals, and re-evaluates them once they have been met. He knew he didn’t have to beat everyone on that course today, but he wanted to finish competitively, and he did, placing in the top eight in his age group.
“It is important to believe in yourself,” he said. “Don’t think about the pain, and find good motivation. I look for someone, and think, he is running good, I must go after him. That is what works for me. I had my friends who finished first and second in their age groups and I keep thinking, I must catch up to them.”
This race was the first time many soldiers had run 10 miles. Being in a deployed environment can change ones goals. 1st Sgt. Robert Showers, 1st Sgt. of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, planned to use this year to accomplish many of the things he has never done before. Taking advantage of every opportunity given is the best way to pass time during a deployment, he said.
“I just want to complete all the things, and do things I have never done before,” said Showers. “I knew I could do it. I went in knowing that, and said to myself, yes, I will complete this.”
Showers said, even though he knew he could do it, it may have been helpful to prepare a little bit more than he had. While the Columbia, South Carolinian knew he could run the 10 miles, the very mountainous terrain of Camp Bondsteel can make even the most expert runner a little nervous.
“I would have done more running, especially uphill,“ he said. “The hills here are very tough, it was like a 22 degree angle going up some of them. But I did it.”
Some people always run with a strategy. Paciejewski set goals along the way, Showers just knew he wanted to keep putting one foot ahead of the other. Both found motivation along the way and hope to inspire others to keep setting and reaching new goals for themselves.
After he had gotten a chance to relax, to grab water and a burger with everyone after the race, Showers looked back, and said he was proud of completing the race, and hoped that he was setting an example for all the soldiers here.
“I challenge all of the soldiers here to do this,” said Showers. “Especially the older soldiers, the 50 and above Soldiers. I challenge all of them, you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it.”
||COLUMBIA, SC, US
This work, Finding motivation one mile at a time, by SSG Angela Parady, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.