By Mr. Jamesdenton Wyllie (IMCOM)June 17, 2010
ATLANTA - Hundreds of runners raced through the streets of Atlanta during the ninth annual Army Hooah Race Saturday, pushing themselves and each other through the gates of Fort McPherson and across the finish line at Hedekin Field.
The race, which was held in honor of the Army's 235th birthday, was the last of its kind at Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem and kicked off the celebratory events of Army Birthday Week.
Runners started from either the 5-km start line in downtown East Point or the 10-km start line in College Park before making their way to Fort McPherson.
With the closure of Fort McPherson and Fort GIllem scheduled for 2011, many runners said taking the opportunity to run through Fort McPherson one last time was impossible to resist.
"I ran last year and really liked the course and the base, so I was hoping that I could come back and do it again," said 5-km overall female, first-place finisher Katie Charles. "Plus, they give out the greatest trophies."
Tara Mooney, a member of the Aquaphor running team and a former teammate of Charles' when they both ran on Kennesaw State University's track team, said she was eager to try out the course for the first time.
"Katie told me about the race and I definitely wanted to try it out," she said. "We do road races all the time, and this seemed like it would be a great experience."
Although winning a trophy or getting the chance to run through a military base served as incentive for some, the chance to bond with Family was the driving force for others.
For Capt. Denny Butcher, staff officer, U.S. Army Forces Command G-6, and his 15-year-old son, Tyler, the race was another way to strengthen their father-son relationship.
"We ran this race together two years ago, but weren't able to last year because I was deployed," said Denny. "It was important for me to run with him (Tyler) this time because it was our run two years ago that motivated him to get into cross-country (running)."
In addition to running with his dad, Tyler said that he was excited to try to beat his previous completion time.
"I've run this race before, but this is my best finish," said Tyler, who finished the 5-km race with a time of 21:17. "I'm glad I was able to improve my time."
Denny said he was happy for the bonding experience the race provided, and was sad to know that it would be the last one at Fort McPherson.
However, his son's happiness at being able to compete and do well was a great final memory of the Hooah Race, he said.
"I know he's happy because he beat me this time," said Denny. "He wasn't able to do that last time, so it's good for him to have that experience."
Charles felt similarly, saying the run was a bittersweet way to say goodbye to Fort McPherson.
"It sucks that this is the last one, but it was great fun," she said. "I'm glad that I won this time. It makes it all the more special."