CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - There are a number of milestones in a person's life.

When one turns 16, they can drive a car; at 18, they are an adult; at 21, they can drink alcohol; and at 30, some people may consider themselves to be old. Each person celebrates these milestones in different ways.

So when Capt. Joshua Southworth, an operations officer with the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), turned 30 years old on March 28, he decided to celebrate with a run - a 30-mile run.

Southworth has not always been a runner.

"I was never into running," Southworth, an Erie, Pa., native, said.

He got into running as a U.S. Military Academy cadet, when he realized that he needed to improve his two-mile run in order to succeed in the Army.

So, he signed up and trained for a marathon and finished with a time around four and a half hours.

During his first deployment in 2004 and 2005, Southworth injured his back and was unable to run for a while. It was during the current deployment that Southworth got back into it and started running more and more, he explained.

"I realized that I missed it," Southworth said.

Southworth started reading Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" and was inspired to run 30 miles on his 30th birthday, which is something mentioned in the book, Southworth explained.
After reading the book, he realized that running could be fun, and decided to do something about it, Southworth said.

Beginning in mid-February, Southworth began to add miles to his normal runs. He went from running about six miles and gradually increased, until he ran 20 miles on March 21.

In order to meet the 30-mile goal by his 30th birthday, he had to bump up 10 miles in one week. Southworth said the key isn't to think of it as running 30 miles.

"I didn't run 30 miles," Southworth said. "I ran 10 miles three times."

Starting at 2 a.m., in the rain, Southworth ran the first 10 miles in about an hour and a half. The pace slowed for the next 10 miles, and the last 10 miles were even slower, Southworth explained.

"I felt fine for the first five of the last 10, but when I hit the turn-around, my pace slowed way down," Southworth said.

Although Southworth didn't really train with anyone else, Capt. Thorin Parris, another operations officer with the 15th Sust. Bde., helped Southworth plan out his route.

Parris, a Melbourne, Fla., native, also gave Southworth suggestions on how to make the run work, Parris said.

"I told him it'd be a great accomplishment," Parris said.

Running 30 miles in a day isn't something Parris would end up doing, he said.

"I like to run, but I'm not a marathoner" Parris said. "He obviously is, and I applaud him for it."

Parris said he draws the line at the Army 10-Miler, which he ran in 1998 and plans to run again this year.

Southworth said it is something that he might do again next year, adding a mile to make it 31 miles, or he may sign up to run another marathon in an attempt to beat his previous time.

In the end, Southworth said it was just something to do on his birthday, since he is now 30 years old and no longer "cool".

"I don't like the idea of being 30," Southworth said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16