CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Champion Jeffrey Hayden, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Casey, triumphantly defended his men's division title during the 2011 8th Army Bataan Memorial Death March Qualifier at Carey Fitness Center here Feb. 26.

"This year race was a lot more difficult for me," Hayden said. "I didn't have chance to train up. So I knew when I was going out today, I was not as strong as last year, but I just had to race. I'm pretty happy how I did today in spite of being sick with the flu."

Hayden was among the 200 Soldiers who ran the 13.1-mile course here in honor of U.S and Allied service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II against the Japanese, sacrificing their freedom, health and often their lives.

In the 10th year of the event last year, Hayden who also won the 8-mile Warrior Country Rucksack Challenge this past November, set the course record of 1:55:53. He was admittedly disappointed with his 2:03:34 time this year because he just returned from field training and didn't have sufficient time to train, but he had a plan.

"My strategy was to keep running consistently through the race to keep the same pace," Hayden said.

Kristoffer Sibbaluca, Co. C, 1st Battalion., 72nd Armor Regiment at Camp Casey, finished second in 2:06:27 and John Rubley, Co. B, 2-9th Inf. at Camp Casey, finished third in 2:08:16.

In the women's division, Jodi Wernikoff, HHB, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Camp Carroll, took first place in 2:26:42. She also took first place in the 8th Army Triathlon Championship this past July, breaking the women's record.

"At the start of the race I felt excited, but I was ready to ruck," she said. "During the race, I felt strong. The hardest part was definitely the major hill about one-mile long, around mile eight.

"I was actually very surprised when I crossed the finish line and saw my time. I was shooting for just under three hours. I'm extremely pleased with my time... I've been putting a lot of hours in at the gym over the past couple of months, which has definitely prepared me for an endurance race."

Sindi Connell, HHD, 719th Military Intelligence Battalion at Camp Humphreys, finished second in 2:34:00 and Ashley Langston, HHC, 302nd Brigade Support Battalion at Camp Casey, finished third in 2:54:41.

The Co. B, 2-9th Inf. team of Ahn Hee-soo, Shin Seong-hun, Kim Jong-chan, Kim Hyeon-cheol and Lee Jung-woo took first place in the team event in 2:52:45. Co. A, 2-9th Inf. took second place in 3:00:18.

"It was so tiring race with a 35-pound pack on and it hurt me mentally and physically," said Ahn, Co. B, 2-9th Inf. team leader. "I was relieved rather than exhausted the last three miles since our unit runs more than four miles of PT every morning."

The top five from the men's and women's division along with the team champion will represent 8th Army in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, March 27.

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