Those driving on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall the morning of Dec. 3rd might have seen a group of reindeer running around base. No, not the furry, Santa's sleigh-pulling ones, but the two legged running type wearing reindeer antlers.

JBM-HH's Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted a Reindeer Stampede in support of the annual Operation Santa that consisted of the Reindeer Stampede, a senior health fair and an all weekend basketball tournament. Operation Santa is an Army Community Service program that sees to it all children of military Families have a toy during the holiday season. All Operation Santa events were free, but participants were invited to donate a new, unwrapped toy.

Roughly 110 runners showed up for the Reindeer Stampede said Brandon Lamberson, DFMWR.

"The course was a 5K route around Fort Myer, going around the shoppette, past Arlington National Cemetery and down towards Wright Gate. The runners also passed the Caisson, so everybody got to see a little piece of Fort Myer," said Lamberson.

The Reindeer Stampede run was open to anyone who wanted to participate. The first 100 people to show up received plush reindeer antlers that many wore strapped to their heads during the race.

The top male runners were Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Matthews (00:19:33) and Staff Sgt. Michael Creadon (00:19:50), both with The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and Sgt. Maj. Manuel Almanza (00:26:38), Army National Guard.

"I'm happy with my time. I wasn't trying to set a personal record or anything," said Matthews. "I just came out to have fun. It's more of a fun race for me."

"[Wearing the antlers] was fun. [They] are nice because my [eight-year-old] daughter is running a [5K] race tomorrow and she can wear them," Matthews said.

At the end of the race, Creadon pulled out his trumpet and played various Christmas tunes, and at one point, played the theme to "Rocky."

"I'm playing because it's in the spirit of a holiday fun run, and it brings cheer," he said.
The top female runners were Staff Sgt. Brooke Metrinko (00:22:42), The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, Capt. Shannon Cummings (00:25:05) and 2nd Lt. Criseida Almanza (00:26:38), both with the Army National Guard.

"I did not [expect to be the first woman to finish]. I was really excited and I feel like I pushed a lot through the course," said Metrinko. "I was just excited to see them at the end and hear them say, 'first female finished.' It was a good feeling," she added.

"I didn't make it with the antlers - they fell off about a quarter of a mile into the race," said Metrinko.

Other prize winners included HHC, 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) with the largest running unit in the race - about 70 runners.

The youngest runner in the race was Andrew Akers, 14, a military family member.
Akers said this was his first time running the Reindeer Stampede and he has also run the Turkey Trot and Devil Dog Run since moving here. "I like to run. It was good. Not too long or short," he said.

Although not everyone who participated in the run donated a toy, there was still a good amount of play things collected despite the only reward being reindeer antlers and the chance to run around Fort Myer.

Leonard Toyer, ACS financial counselor, oversees Operation Santa. "We are grateful people consider us this time of year," he said. "Operation Santa is a way to help military families during the holiday season."