FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Honolulu hosts the annual Great Aloha Run, an 8.15-mile race from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium. Although the race only lasts a few hours, the preparation takes a few months.

Soldiers from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command are volunteering to assist the GAR staff almost every step of the way.

The GAR, being held downtown Feb. 21, is a charity event that benefits Carole Kai Charities, a philanthropic fund run by Hawaii entertainer Carole Kai who, along with Honolulu Marathon founder Dr. Jack Scaff, created the race in 1985. Since the race's inception, more than $8.1 million has gone to about 150 nonprofit organizations in Hawaii, including various military morale, welfare and recreation programs.

The Fort Shafter-headquartered 8th TSC is coordinating the participation of all Army units in Ohau for the second consecutive year, said Sgt. 1st Class Santrel McClusky, of 8th TSC G-3 Operations, who is the GAR liaison for all U.S. Army Pacific units.

That means getting more than 3,500 Soldiers in 70-plus buses to the start line, including those who will volunteer at the water points and aid stations along the run route, he said. Soldiers will be bused from Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, and Fort Shafter. Even those 8th TSC units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are getting in on the act by registering their Soldiers in the Honolulu event and running their own races in their deployed locations.

"It's a great feeling to know that I can help support an event of this magnitude that not only supports the local community, but the military community as well," McClusky said.

Like everything else the military does, any good mission starts with an even better plan.

"We started planning our participation mid-October," McClusky said. "Our big contributions leading up to the event include doing coordination for both deployed and garrison-based Army registrations, and providing logistical support on behalf of the Army command."

A distinctive feature of the run is its Sounds of Freedom Division, composed solely of the men and women from all branches of service, running in formation while calling cadence.

Although he will not be running this year, McClusky will be busy on race day making sure things go as planned and Soldiers get to and from the race safely. He knows that even after the race begins, the 8th TSC's involvement is far from over.

The amount of planning and effort that goes into it can make even the most battle-tested Soldier tired.

"Even though participating in this event is a great experience, I can't wait until Tuesday (the day following the race), so I can take a day off from planning. Then Wednesday we can start preparing for next year," McClusky said.

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