CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Sgt. First Class Chris Baker, 287th Sustainment Brigade postal noncommissioned officer in charge, native of Quincy, Mass., placed fourth overall with a time of 3 hours, 24 minutes, 40 seconds in the Boston Athletic Association sanctioned "Boston Marathon in Iraq" here April 18.

On race day, Baker was excited and focused. He felt confident he could make the run in four hours.

"You think about anything but running while you're out there," Baker said with a chuckle. Halfway through the race, Baker's watch stopped working so he didn't know what his time was until he crossed the finish line.

"Getting in less than three hours and thirty minutes was huge. The joy, the pain, the exhaustion. Magnify that a million times. That's how you feel. I'm qualified. I'm not giving that up. I'm in," Baker said.

His son Matthew, a University of Vermont graduate, and a Quincy, Mass. resident as well, also ran the Boston Marathon April 20.

As a Boston native, Baker always enjoyed the heraldry and fun of the Boston marathon, until his two sons asked if he could participate, 15 years ago.
"Dad, we want you to run the marathon," said Matt and Chris. That was all the inspiration he needed, so he trained and ran the 1993 Boston Marathon in 3:40:00.

While deployed to Iraq in 2009, Baker didn't plan on running a marathon until he saw a "Boston Marathon in Iraq" flyer in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"That's for me," Baker said. "I'm in the right place." Later, he told Matt he will run in the marathon here.

Matt surprised his dad also that he was also planning to run the Boston Marathon too. "I finished school in December," Matt said, "so I didn't have much to do until I find a job. I wanted a personal challenge in life and wanted to represent my dad."

"It's a good feeling to have someone run for you," Baker said.

They both began their training on opposite sides of their world, by running for distances and not time.

"It doesn't matter which side of three to four hours you come in on," Baker said. "You're going to be out there for a long time, and you need to get your body used to it."

While training for the marathon, Baker worked with the "Boston Marathon in Iraq" committee to ensure the event was a success. He recommended filling pot holes, grading the dirt roads and playing the national anthem at the start of the event.

On April 20, Baker watched his son's opening online, when Matt gave a television interview Matt before the race. WBZ-TV, a CBS affiliate in Boston, coordinated with Baker to deliver his surprise message to Matt during the interview, "I love you. I am so proud of you. Enjoy the day and race your race. The training was the hard part. The race is the enjoyable part. I'll see in Hopkinton for the 114th."

Matt completed the race in 4:20:13. He will be joining his dad for the Boston Marathon in April 2010.