Hunter Army Airfield Soldier qualifies for Boston Marathon
April 15, 2010
<b>HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. </b>- She describes running as her core, her niche in life, the thing that gives her life order and keeps her grounded.
In March, running reaped additional rewards for Sgt. 1st Class Couretta Sirmans, a 41-year-old Soldier and athlete with the 224 Military Intelligence Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield. After only three months of training for the 2011 Boston Marathon's qualifying run March in Atlanta, Sgt. 1st Class Sirmans placed 14th overall among women competitors, running the marathon in three hours, 28 minutes and 55 seconds. She placed 150th overall among the 2,114 men and women who competed. In addition to the 2011 Marathon, her time also qualifies her to run in the 2012 Boston Marathon.
The marathon was a bittersweet victory for Sgt. 1st Class Sirmans, since it was also in March that her 18-year marriage finally ended. When she returned from Iraq last November, she pushed her way through the initial pain of her failing marriage by running. After a year-long respite in the desert from the sport, she can now pour her time, energy and heart into getting her body ready to compete.
"It's my drug of choice," said Sgt. 1st Class Sirmans. "Long runs help me focus on personal and work-related issues. I use that time to identify my problems and work out solutions."
"Divorce is like dying," she continued, adding that running gives her confidence, strength and the determination to press forward to her new goals on the horizon - a degree in human resources, promotion in the Army, and qualifying for the Olympic trials as a "master" competitor.
"I'm a strong person," said Sgt. 1st Class Sirmans, the 12th child of 12, seven girls and five boys, who learned life lessons from a loving Family. Shortly before her deployment to Iraq, she experienced another devastating blow - the death of her mother, with whom she was intensely close.
"I'm the mirror image of my mother - I'm an introvert, quiet but independent; a 'silent storm' as we used to say of my mother. Lately, Sgt. 1st Class Sirmans' description of herself has broadened. The pain of divorce has caused positive life changes.
"I'm becoming more open, more grounded, and I think I've begun to blossom, thanks to the support from friends and my chain of command," she said.
That chain of command includes 1st Sgt. Claudine AltVater, 224 Military Intelligence Battalion, who allows Sirmans the time to train.
Another supporter is Command Sergeant Major Stephen Dant, 224 Military Intelligence Battalion's command sergeant major.
"Sergeant First Class Sirmans is an extraordinary Soldier and athlete who gives 100 percent in whatever challenge she takes on," he said. "She is a two-time member of the Fort Stewart-Hunter team competing in the Army 10-miler, as well as various other races. This last performance at the ING Marathon in Atlanta definitely showed her dedication and ability - earning her a spot in the coveted Boston Marathon. I expect her to compete successfully in that race and I fully believe that she can win her age division in 2011."
Sergeant First Class Sirmans will continue her present regiment of running 30 miles weekly and a diet of carbohydrates for energy to prepare for the upcoming Army 10-Miler and Boston Marathon.
She said running remains a life motivator, but it's her faith in God that will carry her through unforeseen trials to the end of life's journey.
"I'll be fine," she said. "I only have to make sure my priorities are in place- He'll do the rest."