By Pfc. James Dutkavich, 24th Press Camp HeadquartersOctober 25, 2016
(VALMIERA, LATVIA) -- There were runners, runners everywhere including Paratroopers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, participating in the Stirnu Buks Roebuck Beverinas Castle Mound trail run in Valmiera, Latvia Oct. 22, 2016.
Valmiera is the seventh largest city in Latvia. The race began and ended at the Ruins of the Livonian Order Castle. The five distance categories for the race were the Dormouse, with a distance of 0.6 to one kilometer, the Squirrel, with a distance of four to six kilometers, the Bunny, with a distance of eight to 12 kilometers, the Roebuck, with a distance of 17 to 22 kilometers, and the Bobcat with a distance of 27 to 35 kilometers.
"Doing things like this show the Latvian people that we are not just out here doing our individual training, but interacting with the Latvian forces and the people as a whole," said 1st Lt. Lance Barrow, a Paratrooper assigned to the 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt., who earned the Bobcat. "Our commitment is here."
All runners were given a medal when they finished the race signifying they completed their chosen run course.
"It is very cold. I never wanted to give up because I have never ran that distance before," said U.S. Army Capt. Richard Thomas, Paratrooper assigned to the 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt., shortly after completing the Roebuck course. "Plus, I was wearing 'The Rock' (503rd Infantry Regiment) gear and 'The Cat' patch."
Thomas added that he was there because he had never run a half marathon distance before and he thought it was good to be interacting with the Latvian people in a positive manner.
U.S. Soldiers are in the Baltics as part of Atlantic Resolve, a U.S. lead effort being conducted in Eastern Europe to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.