By U.S. ArmySeptember 22, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Runners most likely don't choose Fairbanks' Equinox Marathon to set a personal record. With a climb of almost 2,000 feet to the summit of Ester Dome and then a steep descent back down, this marathon is known in running circles as one of the most difficult races in North America. Runners and walkers alike choose this race for entirely different reasons, including the opportunity to experience something uniquely Alaskan and
For some runners and walkers from Fort Wainwright, the decision to run this year's Equinox Marathon was also about accomplishing something challenging during the ongoing deployments.
"I've never done anything like this before," said Trisch McMurray, wife of Lt. Col. John McMurray, commander, 25th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. McMurray was one of 12 runners and walkers from Fort Wainwright who formed four Arctic Warriors relay teams and ran the Equinox Marathon Saturday. "This was just mad," she said. "I can't believe I really did this."
Erin Reece, wife of 1st Lt. Luke Reece, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Battalion, 1-25th SBCT, became the Arctic Warriors relay teams captain and said she got involved in the event to push herself and to do something she would normally do with her husband, who is currently deployed to Afghanistan.
"My husband is an ultra marathoner and would have loved to run the Equinox if he were here now," Reece said. "Being a part of the relay teams was my way of continuing our family traditions while he's deployed and accomplishing something that I knew would make him proud."
Arctic Warriors relay team members wore custom-made team shirts and cheered each other on at each leg transition during the race and at the finish line. They also carb-loaded, a time-honored race tradition, the night before the marathon with a pasta dinner.
"Some of the really wonderful byproducts of forming these Arctic Warriors relay teams are the friendships that we formed and the encouragement we all received in doing something so challenging," said Diane Wood, wife of Col. Todd Wood, commander, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Many Stryker Brigade Soldiers are also planning to run marathon relays to mirror the Equinox Marathon while they're deployed so this experience has been an encouragement to Families and deployed Soldiers, Wood said. "The deployment has been difficult at times and we provided our Soldiers a distraction and great source of pride knowing that we are thriving at home," she explained. "What an experience this was."
While other Wainwright Soldiers, Families and civilian employees raced in the 2011 Equinox full marathon, relay and ultra marathon, the following runners and walkers participated in this year's Equinox Marathon relay as part of the Arctic Warriors teams: team one -- Natalie Rhodes, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Erin Reece, wife of 1st Lt. Luke Reece, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; and Kathryn Oliver, wife of Capt. John Oliver, 3-21st; team two -- Trisch McMurray, wife of Lt. Col. John McMurray, 25th Brigade Support Battalion, 1-25th SBCT; Erin Carius, wife of 1st Lt. Brandon Carius, 3-21st; and Sheryl Nix, wife of Maj. Chris Nix, 1-25th SBCT; team three -- Laura Deems, wife of Maj. Mike Deems, 715th Contingency Contracting Team; Lisa St. Clair, smokejumper, Alaska Fire Service; and Laura Bergman, wife of Capt. Zach Bergman, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1-25th SBCT; team four -- Diane Wood, wife of Col. Todd Wood, 1-25th SBCT; Bridget Nelson, wife of Capt. Scott Nelson, 472nd Military Police Company; and Maggie Robitaille, wife of 1st Lt. Adam Robitaille, 3-21st.