Here & There: St. Patrick's Day race spans two continents
March 19, 2010
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., and FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan---The St. Patrick\'s Day race held March 13 in Colorado Springs had a sister race take place the same day in Afghanistan. Servicemembers and civilians serving under Task Force Mountain Warrior ran a three and a half mile race in Jalalabad, on Forward Operating Base Fenty in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province. More than 200 people participated in that run, including Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson. Local businesses in the Colorado Springs area had donated Irish-themed T-shirts, gift certificates, necklaces and hats for those who participated overseas. Colorado Springs race organizer John O'Donnell said he was excited the race in Afghanistan went so well, and said this year's turnout in the Springs was amazing. "What we have is just about 1,900 runners, and they represent really a crosscut of the community - men, women, great athletes ... we have Army athletes out here (and) we have just your run of the mill recreational runner," said O'Donnell. He also feels the race, now in its 27th year, has more importance than ever before, thanks to the sister run held in Jalalabad. "This is 3 A,A1/2 months of planning, fund raising, meeting, late nights, and in our town this event, after 27 years, has become a really important thread ... in the fabric of the community," said O'Donnell. James Gasper, a former Soldier who ran in the Colorado Springs race, said his whole family looked forward to this day. "(You) get a good workout, get to see a lot of people," he said. "They have the parade next. We'll take that in and then just enjoy all the day's festivities." Others came out just for the pure enjoyment of the event. "It's St. Patty's Day," said Shannon McCue, a local Colorado Springs health care worker. "Everybody's having a good time and dressed up. It's just a fun race." The eventual first- and second-place finishers of the race held in Colorado Springs were both Soldiers stationed at Fort Carson. Spc. Robert Cheseret, World Class Athlete Program, won the race by a matter of inches --- with a time of 15 minutes, nine seconds --- over his training partner, 1st Lt. John Mickowski, also with the World Class Athlete Program. Both said it did not matter who won, and were just out to run hard and see what shape they were in since this was their first race of the new season. The fastest time in the three-and-a-half mile Jalalabad race was 19 minutes, 25 seconds, posted by Jackson Kamal, a civilian contractor. Spc. Anthony Michael Larson, with 1st Platoon, Company A, 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, also participated in the Jalalabad run. His wife, Maghen Larson, ran with the Fort Carson group in Colorado Springs. Larson said that he and his wife decided to run together in spirit. Though they could not see each other, Larson knew that they were still together in heart. "Good job on the run," Larson said as a message to his wife in Colorado. "I love you and I'll see you in a couple months."