By Jon Connor
ASC Public Affairs

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill.-While stretching at 6:45 a.m., Soldiers agreed it was a perfect day to go for a run: 48 degrees and calm, amid slightly foggy skies shows signs of clearing.

Forty-five minutes later, Soldiers from the Army Sustainment Command took off at a gallop after their commanding general signaled the start of the 13th annual Quad Cities Marathon. ASC fielded a team for the 5-kilometer run and another in the half-marathon race held Sept. 26 in downtown Moline, Ill.

One ASC Soldier even ran well enough in the marathon competition to qualify for the Boston Marathon scheduled next April.

Maj. Stephen Marchant, 38, made the cut by three seconds with a time of 3 hours, 14 minutes, 57 seconds in the men's 35-39 category. In the QC Marathon, Marchant placed 50th out of 696 marathon runners. Among men, he was 42nd of 440, and in his age category, he placed fifth out of 64.

Marchant said he plans to compete in the Boston Marathon.

Maj. Gen. Yves J. Fontaine, commanding general of ASC, joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Blake, led the 5-K team (3 miles) across the starting line. Seventeen ASC Soldiers ran on that team.

The ASC half-marathon team consisted of six runners who have been training since May for the upcoming Army 10-miler Oct. 4 in Washington, D.C. The race is held in conjunction with the annual Association of the United States Army gathering that week.

"I just volunteered to run," said Staff Sgt. Maurice Carter, a member of the 5-K team. We wanted to "show these guys how we do it on the Arsenal."

The 31-year-old, 13-year veteran called the morning's 5-K a "piece of cake," explaining ASC does physical training five times weekly with runs up to 5 miles.

"I think it's good that ASC came out here to support this event in the community," Carter said.

Likewise, Fontaine said it's always "fantastic" when ASC and the Army participate in community events.

"Number one, it's always a privilege to run with Soldiers," he said, adding that it's always great to represent the U.S. Army with the local community in time of conflict.

"Number 2, we want to do this to show the community that we support them and that we're part of the community," Fontaine said.

Upon crossing the finish line, runners were offered bottled water, fruit, pastries, beer and even massages by event-support vendors.

In the half-marathon (13.1 miles) event, Staff Sgt. Amar Aria, 29, finished 46th out of 754 in the men's category with a time of 1:31:04 and 51st overall with a pace of 6 minutes, 58 seconds per mile.

ASC's next best finisher was Master Sgt. Anders Anthony, 40, who took 85th in the men's category and 98th overall with a time of 1:35:54 and a pace of 7:20 per mile.

Coming in third for ASC was Master Sgt. Louis Aguilar, 40, with a time of 1:38:52, good enough to place 134th overall with and a pace of 7:33.

Aguilar was followed by Staff Sgt. Donald Engling, 33, who finished 247th with a time of 1:45:28; Capt. Scott Leifker, 31, coming in 310th with a time of 1:48:34; and Sgt. 1st Class Warren Benson, 39, finishing 829th overall in 2:04.36.

"This was my first time" at running a half-marathon, said Anthony. "It's physically challenging."

Asked if he ever felt like quitting during the run, Anthony, who turns 41 Oct. 24 -- the day of the Army 10-Miler -- was frank.

"Did I feel like I wanted to quit ... Yeah," he said. "But, Master Sergeant Aguilar said 'Don't quit.' "

Since May, the ASC team has been training regularly with runs up to 12 to 14 miles, Anthony said.

For Leifker, ASC's Headquarters company commander, the run brought a cramp to his right hamstring. Never the quitter, he pulled over to the side to stretch it out.

Asked what he thought about during the 13.1mile run, Leifker quickly said: "Everything and anything. I do a lot of calculating in my head."

The half-marathon team showcased the new uniform it will be wearing for the Army 10-Miler - a blend of black shorts complemented by a white shirt with black and gold trim.

Taking first place in the marathon was Leonard Mania Michuru of Kenya, with a time of 2:16. Taking top honors in the half-marathon was defending champion Bryan Glass of Bettendorf, Iowa, in 1:09:25.

Singing the national anthem was Michelle Berndt of Davenport. She holds the titles of Mrs. U.S. Beauties and Mrs. Iowa.

Joe Moreno, race director, reported that 4,481 runners - the most ever - participated in the event. The course, which runs partly through Rock Island Arsenal and portions of Iowa across the Mississippi River, is USATF (USA Track & Field) certified.