AUSTIN, Texas-As running has been an Army tradition for many years, several Rail Gunners hit the streets of Austin to live up to that tradition and to take Army Strong and running to a higher level.

Twenty-five Deep Strike Soldiers with Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade, participated in the 20th annual Austin Marathon, here, Feb. 20. This marathon marked the third year in partnership with the Live Stong organization, a non-profit organization devoted to cancer research and awareness.

With the Texas weather on its best behavior and the wind at the runners' backs, more than 20,000 participants ran across the start line promptly at 7 a.m.

Deep Strike Soldiers trained long and hard to prepare for one of the toughest runs of their lives. These runners had a difficult 26.2 miles before them, as the first 17 miles were laden with varying degrees of hills.

"Didn't know what to expect, but we trained hard," said Cpl. Joseph Houde, a St. Johnsbury, Vt. native. "It's pretty exciting to run in a marathon. Not many people can say that they've done this."

The Deep Strike Soldiers tried to offset some of the pain of the marathon by training hard for several months.

"We were looking at our physical fitness training calendar and we wanted to have an event to bring the unit closer and increase the unit's PT average," said 1st Sgt. Anthony Iglehart. "We like to train hard and play hard, so why not a marathon. One of the NCOs put the team and training together and, shortly after, the Austin marathon became our culminating event."

Every Soldier came out to run for one reason or another, personal goals, but the biggest reason was team support and esprit de corps.

"This whole process has been a great team building experience," said Iglehart. "Even from the Soldiers who are not running, a lot of them helped to set up traffic control points during our prep runs all throughout central Texas. I'm excited for my guys; this shows their heart and commitment to each other, the team, and their task hand."

"This is my first marathon and last marathon," said Pvt. Charles Galendez, Yigo, a Guam native. "I feel excited and nervous at the same time. This 26.2 miles is nothing nice, it might get the best of me. I've been running nonstop to prepare for this marathon but, I'm glad that I'm out her. How many young people can say that they've done a full marathon'"

The Deep Strike Soldiers also enlisted a spouse to run in the 5k race.

"I'm here to support my husband and his unit," said Anh Vandiver, married to Staff Sgt. Keith Vandiver. "It takes a lot of commitment to compete. Every Sunday I'm out there with my husband and his guys. I'm proud of them all. It shows a lot of heart. But most importantly, we're also doing this run on behalf of his stepmother, who just passed away this year from cancer."

The team's goal wasn't to come in first place but to come out as a team and push each to overcome a seemingly impossible obstacle. Across the flats and over the rolling hills, Deep Strike accomplished that task.

Staff Sgt. Guy Martinez was the first Deep Strike Soldier to cross the finish line with a time of 4 hours, 11 minutes, 37 seconds.

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