Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq - Close to 300 servicemembers and civilians from Contingency Operating Base Speicher, including Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the commanding general of Task Force Marne, participated in the TF Marne 10-Miler, Oct. 10. The 10-Miler was the last of three runs organized by the 21st Combat Support Hospital.
A team of Soldiers from the 21st CSH, led by 1st Lt. Emily Baldo, a clinical staff nurse in the emergency room, put together the 5 km "Why Not Run," the 10 km "Top of Iraq" and the 10-Miler run, which were designed to build upon each other in a training aspect.
"The original idea for the runs came from 1st Lt. Baldo when we first got here, said Capt. Peter Attilio, a nurse anesthetist and primary assistant in planning the runs. "As we developed the idea, we realized that most people have never run 10 miles."
To build endurance and stamina and encourage people to run in the TF Marne 10-Miler, the five- and 10-km runs were held, Capt. Attilio added.
Endurance and training were tested during second through fifth miles of the race as the runners moved from a paved surface to gravel, said Sgt. Maj. Charles Friend, the senior enlisted Soldier in the TF Marne G-6. Knowing the course before the run allowed them to plan their pace accordingly at the start of the race to account for the gravel, he added.
For the 10-Miler, 1st Lt. Baldo wanted to boost morale amongst the units. Her first idea was to pass out T-shirts. However, her second option worked out best - spirit water points.
"We realized that our spirit and motivation was not going to be able to come from T-shirts, that it needed to be from people. ... We decided to ditch the original idea and have a giant party that involves the entire COB with one-mile runs between the [water] points," said 1st Lt. Baldo.
Soldiers from tenant units around COB Speicher manned the party points and were allowed to decorate them and wear costumes. Themes for the points included Halloween, which was hosted by Headquarters and Headquarters Operations Company, 3rd Infantry Division Special Troops Battalion and a M*A*S*H theme at the 21st CSH point.
To improve the scenery and break run monotony individual runners, walkers and teams voted for the most spirited party points. The winner was the ghoulish HHOC, 3rd DSTB, Halloween party point. To round out the festivities, a dunk tank gave Soldiers the ability to cool off by volunteering to be dunked at the end of the race.
The night before the long run, 1st Lt. Baldo and Capt. Attilio planned a pasta dinner.
"The goal of the 10-Miler was to shadow the Army 10-Miler in Washington, D.C.," said 1st Lt. Baldo. "Before that race many teams will sponsor a pre-race spaghetti dinner. It was something that we wanted to do out here to boost morale and get people excited about the run."
When all runners had finished, Maj. Gen. Cucolo presented awards to 47 personnel who were in the top three within their age group and gender and to the overall top three males and females.
Many of the prizes and raffle items given out at the races would not have been possible without the sponsors that Capt. Attilio found.
"We had a number of different sponsors," said Capt. Attilio. "The main group was Exchange New Car Sales. They gave us the first-place prizes, a Nintendo Wii and additional iPod Shuffles. We also had sponsorship through RoadID, who gave us all of the [number bibs] and gift certificates for their products [to give to Soldiers] free of charge."
The three runs were a first for the deployment for some Soldiers. Staff Sergeant Nadejda Vorobyeva-Santiago, the disbursement noncommissioned officer for Detachment B, 125 Financial Management Company, had not run any races before she began training for the 5 km run and finished by coming in second in the TF Marne 10-Miler.
"The [10-Miler] run was awesome," said Staff Sgt. Vorobyeva-Santiago. "The atmosphere was great and the weather was great. I had a lot of fun. This was my first 10-Miler. I started running here, downrange, and this was my third race. I placed first in my age group and second overall for the females. I am definitely looking forward to more runs."