• Husband and wife, Col. Damon Gooch, operations officer, Third Medical Deployment Support Command, and Maj. Hope Gooch, logistics officer for G-4, U.S. Army Reserves Command, cross the finish line while holding hands during the Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation Valentine's Day 5-km run on Fort McPherson Feb. 11. The couple say they participate in events together whenever possible for the shared memories and to strengthen their relationship.

    Fort McPherson holds Valentine's Day 5-km run

    Husband and wife, Col. Damon Gooch, operations officer, Third Medical Deployment Support Command, and Maj. Hope Gooch, logistics officer for G-4, U.S. Army Reserves Command, cross the finish line while holding hands during the Directorate of Family...

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ron Hicks, a voice interceptor with the 345th Military Intelligence Battalion, sprints to the finish line of the Valentine's Day 5-km run at Fort McPherson Feb. 11. Hicks was the first runner to cross the line at Hedekin Field with a time of 17:43.

    Fort McPherson holds Valentine's Day 5-km run

    Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ron Hicks, a voice interceptor with the 345th Military Intelligence Battalion, sprints to the finish line of the Valentine's Day 5-km run at Fort McPherson Feb. 11. Hicks was the first runner to cross the line at Hedekin Field...

  • Runners race up the hill on Miller Drive on Fort McPherson, the first hill of the course. The course contained a mix of running up and down hills.

    Fort McPherson holds Valentine's Day 5-km run

    Runners race up the hill on Miller Drive on Fort McPherson, the first hill of the course. The course contained a mix of running up and down hills.

  • Chiqui O'Leary, a retired Delta Airlines employee, holds a teddy bear she won for getting one of the two specially marked candy mugs. All participants who finished received mugs (below) after the race. The prizes were provided by DFMWR.

    Fort McPherson holds Valentine's Day 5-km run

    Chiqui O'Leary, a retired Delta Airlines employee, holds a teddy bear she won for getting one of the two specially marked candy mugs. All participants who finished received mugs (below) after the race. The prizes were provided by DFMWR.

  • A group of runners begin their attempt at the Valentine's Day 5-km run at Fort McPherson Feb. 11. Ninety people braved the cold to challenge themselves on the course, which started at Hedekin Field in front of U.S. Army Garrison headquarters.

    Fort McPherson holds Valentine's Day 5-km run

    A group of runners begin their attempt at the Valentine's Day 5-km run at Fort McPherson Feb. 11. Ninety people braved the cold to challenge themselves on the course, which started at Hedekin Field in front of U.S. Army Garrison headquarters.

Love hurts.

So does running more than three miles in the bitter cold, but neither of these two facts kept 90 people from celebrating Valentine's Day in the typical Army way: by running a 5-km race.

On Feb. 11, the Fort McPherson Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff held a Valentine's Day 5-km race to celebrate the holiday.

Some took part for fun and others for competition, but no matter the reason behind competing, all who finished were rewarded for their efforts.

Putting forth the quickest effort was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ron Hicks, 345th Military Intelligence Battalion, who finished the race in 17:43.

Hicks, a voice interceptor, credited his victory with a workout plan he discovered online.

"I normally train for long distances," he said, adding he is currently training for an ironman competition.

An ironman triathlon is a three-stage event consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run.

This is the third year Hicks has been running in competitions.

"I felt I was up to the challenge," he said of his sudden rise from amateur to elite runner, saying he hopes that by his example, he can show that everyone can be fit and healthy while having fun.

The first-place walker, Sgt. 1st Class Charlesell Thrower, career counselor, Army Reserve Career Division, U.S. Army Reserve Command, said he also hopes his performance could be an inspiration for Soldiers.

Despite being on a permanent profile restricting him from running, Thrower said it is still important to get out and moving, and to give it one's all when competing.

"You should not quit no matter what injury you have. You have to keep moving," he said. "Don't be lazy."

Thrower came to the run with six of his fellow Soldiers at the career division and crossed the finish line at 33:59, a time he hopes to improve upon in his next 5-km race.

"The goal is to get 32 minutes, a 6:30 half mile," he said.

Even though Thrower didn't reach his goal this time, he, like all other runners, got bottled water, orange pieces and a mug full of candy at the finish line.

While all the mugs contained candy, two lucky recipients who received a mug with a sticker on the base also got a stuffed teddy bear more than a foot tall.

Chiqui O'Leary, a retired Delta Airlines employee, was one of the lucky winners.

"I'll give it to my grandbaby on the way," she said, adding that her daughter is expecting within the week.

The extra prize was a bonus for O'Leary, 67, who entered the race as training for the Georgia Senior Olympics.

O'Leary participates in the 400-meter run and shuffleboard events at the yearly competition.

Age was no barrier to runners, with children as young as 7 participating. Representing the youth of the community was Kendall Ingram, 11, son of Jan Ingram, Fort McPherson religious education coordinator, who finished in 27 minutes.

"I like running a lot," he said. "I won a fitness award in school." Kendall, who once ran a 6:46 mile, said he enjoyed the run, especially when compared to a running track. "It went up and down. I like it like that. Tracks are just one direction and level," he said.

Overall, the run saw people young and old, male and female, Soldier and Family member, and even one dog, cross the finish line. One of the most memorable finishes was of husband and wife, Col. Damon Gooch and Maj. Hope Gooch, who crossed the finish line holding hands.

"We take every opportunity to share things," said Damon, operations officer, Third Medical Deployment Support Command. "We also ran the Gillem Gallop together."

"It's a memory to share," added Hope, logistics officer for USARC G-4. "He's my husband and I love him."

The couple, who have been married for four years, said sharing experiences has only strengthened their relationship and they look forward to more chances and events to participate in.

"If you have the opportunity, why not exploit it," Damon said.

Page last updated Thu February 18th, 2010 at 14:07