By Capt. Kelly McKenzie (2d ID)April 9, 2014
SEOUL, South Korea -- A team of 54 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment ran the Seoul International Marathon March 16.
The 26.2-mile course started in Gwanghwamun Square, continued through downtown, and ended at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea.
The idea to run the marathon came after a team from A Battery, 1st Bn., 38th FA Regt., 210th FA Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division ran the Joongang Seoul Marathon in November 2013.
"The inspiration came from watching one of our batteries do that marathon," said Maj. Gregory Stopyra, the battalion operations officer and native of Schenectady, N.Y. ?"Our battalion commander, Lt. Col. Potoczny, realized that was a great way to build upon resiliency. By doing that, it allowed all our Soldiers to experience personal courage, one of the Army Values, because we had to face and overcome adversity."
Richmond, Va. native 1st Lt. Armand Serry was one of several first-time marathoners to attempt the race.
"I was a little nervous because the most I ever ran was the Army 10-miler, and that was a challenge," said Serry, the maintenance control officer for 580th Forward Support Company. "I really knew that was going to be a commitment until the end, until I crossed the finish line."
The Soldiers from the "Steel" battalion trained together, and on the day of the race, the preparation and team cohesion paid off.
"Everybody I knew was really motivated and ready to get it," said Pvt. Orlando Rodriguez, a native of Riverton, Wyo. "There were a lot of nerves going into it, but knowing that you had everybody to your left and your right ready to run it with you and go through that really helped me out."
The race wasn't easy, but the accomplishment of finishing was special, even for an experienced marathoner like Cpl. Matthew Burian, the reconnaissance noncommissioned officer for A Btry.
"I felt amazing for my third time finishing," said Burian, a native of Wayne, N.J. "When you cross that finish line, no matter what you went through, it's very relaxing to know that you got through the 26.2 miles."
Rodriguez, a radar specialist with 333rd Field Artillery Target Acquisition Battery and a first-time marathon runner, was overwhelmed at the finish line.
"I couldn't believe I had accomplished something like this. It definitely was a different feeling," he said. "I've never pushed my body that hard, so when I was done I was just like 'that is amazing.'"
After months of preparation as a team, the Soldiers of 1st Bn., 38th FA Regt. were champions, regardless of how fast they ran the race.
"The marathon was a physically, mentally and spiritually challenging event, but when I looked back and I saw that I was in the Olympic Stadium I thought 'I did it,'" said Spc. Joshua Sisco, a native of Tulsa, Okla. and a multiple launch rocket system crewmember with B Btry. "It wasn't easy, but it was worth it."