DARMSTADT, Germany - Soldiers across the Army who previously served in Germany, and fondly remember one of the premier road races there, will have one last chance Oct. 12 to run their way up the mountain to historic Frankenstein Castle.

As part of its swan song, the Darmstadt community will hold its popular - and challenging - Frankenstein Castle Run for the last time that Friday. Walkers as well as runners are invited to participate, and there will be no entry fee.

One of the premiere running events for the Army in Europe since the 1970s, it's a 13-kilometer (8-mile) cross-country trek that starts at Cambrai-Fritsch Kaserne and winds its way more or less easily through the woods and fields south of Darmstadt. The last two kilometers, however, abruptly turn into a near-vertical climb rising about 80 meters (250 feet) to finish at the castle.

At this point, some runners shamelessly turn into walkers.

Still, the route is scenic, the view from the castle is impressive, and participants will have the pleasure of knowing they helped write the last chapter in part of the Darmstadt military community's history.

The run was started in 1977 by a group of Soldiers belonging to the 440th Signal Battalion. The Darmstadt-based unit, which inactivated earlier this year, organized the run every year thereafter except 1996 and 1998, when it was deployed. Two years ago, organization was taken over by Darmstadt community recreation division.

It grew from a small, local event to a one that drew runners from all over the military in Europe.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. on race day, with the starting gun going off at 10 a.m.
Other details are still being finalized, and will be released as soon as they are available.

(Juan R. Melendez Jr. is a member of the USAG Heidelberg Public Affairs Office)