CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Two-hundred and eleven runners gathered in the early morning hours to discuss the race to come. One runner revealed, at age 40, that this was his first marathon. Other devoted runners discussed time goals. One soldier had decided to walk the marathon in his combat boots and a pack on his back, while carrying a dummy rifle. All were about to participate in a run for a worthy cause.
The St. Jude Half Marathon Shadow Run, Dec. 7, embodied two common interests of service members: fitness and charitable involvement. Although the runners were only required to pay the entrance fees, some opted to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. One service member boasted a total of more than $ 1000 by the race’s start.
The half marathon at Arifjan was organized by Maj. Martin Plumlee, the executive officer Detachment 1, 450th Military Police Company, deployed here. The Army Reservist and business owner has a long-standing commitment to the organization.
“As a supporter and advocate for St. Jude for more than 10 years, this [race] was a no-brainer. I participated at the half-marathon event in [Memphis] twice and visited the hospital in person in 2008 and 2010,” said Plumlee, a Nashville, Tenn., native. “The clinical professionals there are brilliant and emotionally strong. I pray on a regular basis that my daughter remain healthy; however, if she was ever challenged by cancer or another pediatric childhood illness, there is only one place I would consider.”
Plumlee began organizing the race in July, aided by his soldiers, the American Red Cross and various other units and volunteers from the camp. He estimates that they spent 200 hours laying the groundwork for the marathon, but the end result was worth the hard work.
“Great weather, high motivation and some fast runners! A recipe for a fantastic event,” Plumlee said.
Sgt. 1st Class Adam Cook, a military police officer with the 170th Military Police Detachment, agreed with Plumlee. “The run was great! It was a personal record for me, so I really enjoyed the course.”
From a physical fitness standpoint, Cook, a Portland, Ore., native, said running events help keep his motivation high.
“The runs help me by giving me something to train for and it feels good when an old man can run faster than a young kid,” he joked. “I enjoyed the camaraderie and how we all helped push each other when we passed each other with high fives.”
As each runner crossed the finish line, boosted by the support of those cheering them on, many could be heard saying, “it was a great way to start a Saturday morning in Kuwait.”