Lancer Soldier runs extra mile
February 27, 2012
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait--It is early dawn as the sun has yet risen and the morning wind whips the awaiting marathon runners as they attempt to keep warm and stretch. For one runner in particular, this is his 19th marathon.
Yorktown, Va. native Capt. Martin Peters, the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, readies himself for the 26.2-mile run along the dirt road around Camp Buehring, Feb 12.
"I first started running when I was in high school. I wasn't on the high school team though, I was running because I liked it," said Peters.
Peters also said he began running in high school because he knew then that he wanted to apply to West Point Military Academy and being in top physical condition is a big part of attaining that goal.
Throughout his running career, Peters said that he has followed the example of two important people.
Peters said that he draws inspiration from his father who was a career officer in the Air Force and who also ran quite often, and Steven Prefontain, a famous runner-athlete from Oregon. Peters also quotes Prefontaine's well-known mantra, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
While running, Peters says that he competes with himself and likes to prove he is better than the person next to him.
He said that while running on a treadmill is fine because you can force yourself to run at a certain pace, in the desert or on a trail you are on your own and that at the end of the day, "it's only you who knows how hard you are pushing yourself."
Peters added that he has experience running in different places around the world.
"I went on a 10-mile Paris run and saw all [of] the sights in over an hour, [got] lost in Brussels, Belgium, went on a run through [the] sketch neighborhoods of Grenada, Nicaragua and [I] went running in Moshi, Tanzania under the shadow of Kilimanjaro," said Peters.
For those who meet Peters, his strength in running is usually their first experience with him.
"The first impression I got of him was for his running ability," said Fredericksburg, Va. native 1st. Lt. David Coleman, the scout platoon leader for Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Lancer Battalion.
Coleman most often sees his commander running with his company. He said that Peters often leads the way by carrying machine gun barrels which weigh at least 40 pounds or wearing a chemical mask, which makes breathing much more challenging.
Coleman says that Peters also inspires his Soldiers and helps them improve their running ability.
"It is inspiring, for people aspiring to be better runners, they see him and say, 'Wow, there's what dedication looks like,'" said Coleman.
Coleman said that if Peters is running with someone else, he will run at the pace of that person despite the fact that he can run faster. He said the Peters will stay at a reasonable pace, thereby running with the Soldiers rather than running to prove his ability.
Coleman is not the only one who can attest to Peters aiding those who need help with running.
1st. Sgt. Bradley Williams, the first sergeant for B Co. of the Lancer Battalion, has known Peters for two years, and has served under Peters in the past.
"He would take part in helping others run. He would come in on the weekends for Soldiers who needed help with running on a volunteer basis. He would come in on his personal time and he would run with these kids," said Williams.
Williams describes one particular time in which Peters helped a Soldier.
Williams said there was a Soldier who could not run very well, and within a one-month time frame, Peters had this Soldier successfully passing his Army Physical Fitness Test.
Williams said that Peters is a humble Soldier who knows his ability and is not the kind to flaunt his skill, but rather use his gift to aid and inspire his Soldiers and fellow officers in his battalion.
"[Peters] is a gifted runner and is able to teach it, he is an active person in Soldiers' lives in running," Williams concluded.
When asked about why he keeps running, the 29-year-old Peters said that it is a good way to stay in shape and to relieve stress. He added that running as a hobby is also a good way to maintain physical conditioning in the Army.
Peters explains that he will continue to run as long as he can.
"I have about four or five more years. I'll keep running as long as my body lets me," said Peters.
In addition to running as long as possible, Peters said he would like to participate in several upcoming marathons like the Big Sur, Eugene or Oklahoma City Marathons. He stated that the marathon he chooses depends on his work schedule.
Peters also offers some advice for those considering distance running or those wanting to compete in distance running.
"It's not that scary, just go out and do it. At the end of the day, it requires training. Nothing comes free," said Peters. He added that he completed the early morning marathon at two hours and 58 minutes, which was well below his goal of three hours and 15 minutes.