Troops trek 5K for treats
November 9, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The 699th Maintenance Company out of Fort Irwin, Calif., sponsored a Halloween 5K fun run at Holt Memorial Stadium Oct. 31 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Coming in first place was Dennis Opacan, a Ugandan Army Soldier with a time of roughly 16 minutes, 30 seconds.
First Lt. Douglas Pelletier, company executive officer with the 887th Engineer Support Company, 37th Engineer Battalion, finished close behind with a time of roughly 16 minutes, 45 seconds.
These first few runners' times were approximate because the runners turned the wrong way into Holt Stadium, causing them to have to turn around and go the other way.
Pelletier, a Wells, Maine, native, said he was confused when nobody was at the gate's entrance to direct the runners. Nonetheless, he said he was pleased with his run time.
Sgt. Moises Herrera, armament repair specialist with the 699th Maint. Co., said he has run almost all of the 5 km runs since arriving here.
"I had a lot of fun this morning," said Herrera. "I wish we could've worn costumes, but we did get candy and water at the end of the race."
Herrera, a Fresno, Calif., native, said he set a goal to finish in less than 20 minutes.
"My time was 19 minutes, 55 seconds, so I achieved my goal," he said.
Spc. James D. Gregory, wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 699th, said he runs the races on JBB to boost his morale.
"It also helps me max out my run time for my (Army physical fitness test)," he said.
Gregory, a Kansas City, Mo., native, said he also ran the race to show support for his company, which is scheduled to leave Iraq in less than 50 days.
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. Eckley, technical inspector with the 699th, was the coordinator for the event. He said it was a lot of work, but it received a lot of external support.
"All the external assets were provided by (Morale, Welfare and Recreation)," said Eckley. "They basically had all the speakers and sound system set up; we just had to worry about the last minute things."
Racers received candy as they crossed the finish line.
"The candy came from our rear-detachment Family Readiness Group," said Eckley. "We had a small detail to fill the bags with candy and distribute them to the participants."
Roughly 500 shirts were also given to the runners who finished the race, he said.
Eckley said it would have been nice for all the participants to be able to wear costumes for the event.
"That was something that came from higher, whether it is safety or force protection," he said. "I totally understood though, and I respect that decision."
Eckley said the event was an overall success.
"The weather held up, everybody looked like they had a good time and everything worked out," he said.