USMC Volkslauf event puts the ‘fun’ in ‘fun run’

By Sebastian Rush, eGuidon contributorJune 7, 2023

Drew Reichert, a physical scientist at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Homeland Defense Civil Support Office, leads a group of runners across the final water obstacle near Happy Hollow at the 22nd Marine Corps Volkslauf 10K fun run on Saturday.
Drew Reichert, a physical scientist at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Homeland Defense Civil Support Office, leads a group of runners across the final water obstacle near Happy Hollow at the 22nd Marine Corps Volkslauf 10K fun run on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — More than 600 service members, civilians and family members turned out on Saturday to flip tires, play in the mud and do a little running during the 22nd Marine Corps Volkslauf 10K fun run.

According to Carlos Aguirre, the Marine Corps Detachment’s chief of operations and one of the lead event organizers, the goal of the event each year is to have fun and “let people know a little about the Marines here and what Fort Leonard Wood has to offer.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of the Volkslauf in 2020 and 2021, Aguirre said he was happy to see so many people signing up to participate.

“Last year, we had about 300, so it’s increasing every year as more people start to realize it’s back, and we’re getting a lot more people to this special event they’ve always looked forward to,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said while some of the people ran as individuals, others sought to compete as a team — and the whole teams’ averages were calculated.

“It’s not a race — it’s a fun run, although we do give awards for first, second and third,” Aguirre said.

Compared with last year’s event, Aguirre said this year’s course had more staff to assist with guiding and encouraging the runners — they also added many more challenges.

“We did add more obstacles — we added some tire flips and a mud run — a big mud pit that the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department helped build,” Aguirre said. “Every year, we’re adding more things, more obstacles for this event to make it better, so we can engage with more people in the community and enjoy something fun on base together.”

The first runner to cross the finish line was Marine Sgt. RyLee McCain, an instructor with the Military Police Instruction Company, who completed the 6.2-mile course with a time of 57 minutes, 44 seconds. McCain said he also ran the Volkslauf last year, and he enjoyed the improvements to the course this time around.

“We started on Car Wash Hill, versus starting in the dry creek bed that we did in 2022, which I think was a great call,” he said. “It’s a whole lot safer — no twisted ankles, not having to hurdle logs. And we had two water crossings this year, which I think was good. It helped refresh people.”

McCain added this year he was running against 47 of his students.

“I had two of them on my tail the whole time, and of course, I can’t lose to them,” he said. “And then (Marine Capt. Brendan Evans, MPIC executive officer and the overall event organizer) called me out in the beginning. He was like, ‘You’re going to win, right? I’ll see you at the end.’ So, I thought, ‘I guess I have to win now.’”

Sgt. Tatiana Preziuso, a flute player with the 399th Army Band, was the overall female winner.

“This was a fun year — this was a good one,” she said. “So, we did this last year — and I know they were down for a couple of years for COVID — it was great last year, but this was even more fun.”

What was fun about it? The obstacles, she said.

“They weren’t too hard, so everyone could participate,” Preziuso said. “The mud puddles were awesome because we got a good, heavy rain last night.”

Preziuso, who is getting ready for a body building competition in July, said she was a little surprised that she finished ahead of every other female — and nearly every male as well.

“I’m not focusing on speed cardio right now,” she said. “I thought I was going to be kind of slow this year.”

When asked for advice on doing well at this event in the future, Preziuso said to bring a friend.

“Have a good person to talk to, so you don’t think about what you’re doing the whole time,” she said.

Preziuso ran alongside Sgt. 1st Class Clint Valnes, who plays trombone with the 399th.

“It was a ton of fun,” he said. “We really enjoyed it.”