Service members bring Minneapolis race to Iraq
December 3, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION BASRAH, Iraq - Service members and civilians braved the rain and mud to run in an Iraqi rendition of the Twin Cities Marathon Nov. 28 at Contingency Operating Location Basrah.
Capt. Jim Pereda, the effects executive officer with the 34th Infantry Division out of Rosemount, Minn., and one of the main organizers for the event, said roughly 100 runners participated in the 10-mile run and 49 runners completed the full marathon, which is held annually on a route leading from Minneapolis to St. Paul, Minn.
Running a marathon takes a lot of dedication, said Pereda, a Rodgers, Minn., native.
"It is one of those things you just got to have the goal to do it, I think," said Pereda. I have run a lot of other things, I have done a lot of stuff, but it takes an awful lot of guts ... for that one."
Pereda said the safety of the runners, both medically and with location, was his primary concern in organizing the event. Quick reaction force teams, as well as water points stocked with Gatorade, water and food, were spread throughout the course to ensure the safety of the runners in all aspects, said Pereda.
Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Shockley, with the 36th Sustainment Brigade out of Temple, Texas, and a Richardson, Texas, native, completed the full marathon.
Shockley said it was a good morale booster and an opportunity for the Soldiers from Minnesota to connect.
"Granted not everyone is going to go out and run a marathon in their spare time," she said. "But, for those that like to, this is an additional perk that ties them back to that marathon that is held back home."
Shockley said she was impressed with her Soldiers' dedication and efforts during the run.
"I am just very proud of all the 36th Sustainment Brigade (Soldiers) that did the training," she said. "It is one thing to say they are going to do something, but (they actually woke) up at 3:30 a.m. and (started) getting ready for a 5 a.m. race during cold, rainy conditions. They didn't have to do it, they did it because they wanted to. They had a personal goal of running either 10 miles, or 26.2 (miles), and they did it. I am very proud of them."