Command group tackles half-marathon
U.S. Army Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Command Sgt. Maj. Annette Weber and husband U.S. Army Europe G-1 Command Sgt. Maj. Brad Weber share a hug after successfully completing the half-marathon in Mannheim, Germany.

MANNHEIM, Germany-A sea of some 10,000 runners, bikers, skaters and spectators recently swarmed the streets of downtown Mannheim for the annual Mannheim Rhein-Neckar Marathon May 15.

This year, joining the massive crowd were USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Commander Col. William Butcher and Command Sgt. Maj. Annette Weber, along with USAG Mannheim Commander Lt. Col. Elizabeth Griffin and Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado.

The command teams ran the Engelhorn Sports half-marathon alongside Mannheim's First Mayor Christian Specht.

It was only six short weeks ago that both commands agreed to team up to tackle the 13.1-mile trek, and while most people can offer a variety of reasons for wanting to run a marathon (or for not wanting to), the main reason for their participation this year was simple.

"We wanted to do it to demonstrate our commitment to the Mannheim community, both the host nation and our garrison," Butcher said. "It showed our willingness to support the events of our host nation just as they do in support of our own."

Having previously run in the Army 10-miler and the Marine Corps marathons, Mannheim's commander was the catalyst responsible for getting both commands involved.

"The command teams' participation in this event demonstrates the increased resiliency and enhanced performance that we are promoting through our comprehensive community fitness programs," Griffin said. "Our participation sets the example of excelling in a physical activity, approaching a challenge in a positive way and further developing trusted valued relationships with each other and our host nation neighbors."

"It shows that we support all our communities in the Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg footprint, and we're willing to participate in events to keep building upon our great host nation relationships," Weber said.

The command sergeant major revealed another reason why she agreed to run.

"Lt. Col. Griffin invited Col. Butcher and I to participate. Plus Mannheim challenged us, and we never back down from a challenge," she said.

Weber's husband, Sgt. Maj. Brad Weber, U.S. Army Europe G-1, also came out to pound the pavement alongside his wife for moral support, and apparently he wasn't the only one.

"I think the thing I enjoyed most about the entire experience was that it seemed like the whole Mannheim community lined the streets to cheer us on," Weber said. "I've never seen anything like that in my almost 25 years of military experience. That alone gave me the motivation to see it through."

Despite only six weeks of training, everyone completed the half-marathon with run times ranging from two to two and a half hours, but most agreed that having more time to train would have helped.

The leaders say they relied on everything from their years of military physical training and mental endurance to prayer - and lots of it.

"For me it was my first half-marathon ever, and I did not prepare as well as I should have," Delgado said. "And it took a lot out of me during and after the run."

Now that it's over, he offers this simple advice to anyone contemplating their own attempt at running a half-marathon.

"Make sure you train drink plenty of fluids, and do not go out Salsa dancing the night before," he said.

"Train, train, train or be careful what you sign yourself up for," Butcher added.

This was the first time that both commands had teamed up to participate in the Mannheim marathon, and the leaders say they hope to do it again next year.

"We are hoping that next year we can encourage more community members to run as well," Griffin said. "The event really offers a lot for all ages and abilities ... the race provides a great opportunity to really be a part of the city of Mannheim."

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