FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq - Runners from throughout the International Zone gathered in the early morning hours of Sept. 29 here for the first-ever Black Jack Eight Miler.

The eight-mile run through the International Zone was hosted by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and drew 388 participants.

According to the brigade's information officer, Maj. J.P. Smith, who served as the officer-in-charge of the event, the run was a precursor to the upcoming annual Army 10-Miler, which will be held in Baghdad at Camp Victory this month.

Smith said that a distance of eight miles was chosen to represent one of the 1st Cav. Div.'s training philosophies, which is known as the "Cav. Big 8," and the event served as a morale booster for everyone involved.

"It took the Soldiers' minds off their daily workload and gave them something other than another meeting to look forward too," he said. "I didn't expect it to be that was petty exciting."

First and second place medals were given out to the top male and female finishers in several different age groups, and the morning's best time was posted by Steve McGrory, a member of the British Army, who completed the course in 44 minutes.

"That's one of the best courses that I've ran in my whole running career," he said.
"When we set off this morning running over the bridge, it was just getting light. There were three of us running together and we could see the panorama of the city. It was really good."

McGrory said he is looking forward to telling the members of his running club back home about his latest race.

"They'll be pretty impressed when they hear that I took part in an eight mile road race around Baghdad," he said. "That will impress anyone."