By Capt. Kevin Bentz. 299th BSB, 2nd HBCT, 1st Inf. Div., MND-BMay 28, 2009
BAGHDAD - Cities across the United States host runs and walks to celebrate different cultures and to support multiple causes.
This is no different for Multi-National Division-Baghdad's 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, which has hosted several runs on Victory Base Complex on the outskirts of Baghdad.
These runs are open to all branches of the military and to Department of Defense contractors within MND-B.
The first run the battalion sponsored was in February in celebration of Black History Month - a five-kilometer run around Camp Liberty's "Z Lake."
The run began in the early morning with more than a hundred participants lined up to receive a free t-shirt as a thank you for supporting the event.
"It took months of planning, but I thought it would be good for us to work together," said Staff Sgt. Ericka Benjamin, from Ft. Riley, Kan., an equal opportunity leader for the 299th BSB and event planner for the run. "It was a huge turnout [and] more than we expected."
The motivation for the participants varied from some runners arriving with the hopes of winning first prize, while others just came out to show their support and have a fun morning run.
"I came out to support my battalion, but also to win," said 1st Lt. Andrea Bontrager, also a native of Fort Riley, Kan., 299th BSB.
Bontrager, the 1st place winner for females, finished the run in 23 minutes.
As the runners crossed the finish line they gathered back around the final stretch to cheer on the other runners in a show of camaraderie.
"Overall it was a huge success," said Command Sgt. Maj. Julia Kelly, senior enlisted advisor, 299th BSB. "I am proud of everyone who helped or participated."
After the conclusion of their first sponsored fun run, the 299th BSB leadership and Soldiers set out to start planning their next event.
They quickly set their eyes on sponsoring the "Year of The Noncommissioned Officer Run." This run, like the ones before, was part of the yearlong celebration of the NCO, the role that they have in today's Army and to celebrate the role they have played in the Army's history.
The run also saw hundreds of participants show up the morning of May 9 to make the five kilometer run around Z-Lake.
A week after the "Year of the NCO" run on May 16th, the 299th BSB hosted another run as part of MND-B's Asian Pacific Heritage Month Celebration. The month's celebration continued after the end of the run with a luau and a pig roast planned for MND-B Soldiers.
The 299th BSB is looking ahead to their next run and there are many fun runs in planning for Soldiers still to come.