By Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat TeamOctober 13, 2011
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Oct. 13, 2011 -- Soldiers from the Virginia Army National Guard 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team participated in the Army Ten-Miler Shadow Run at Kandahar Airfield Oct. 2, and Forward Operating Base Lagman Oct. 9.
The Army Ten-Miler, the largest ten-mile race in America, is held every year at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., with shadow runs held throughout the world.
"I heard that a few of the supply sergeants were thinking of running at Lagman," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Douglas L. Harris, the 116th property book officer at Kandahar Airfield, KAF. "Knowing that Kandahar would run one week earlier, I figured I would set the bar for others in the logistics community to beat."
Harris, who ran the Ten-Miler in one hour, 36 minutes, set a pretty high mark for the Lagman group to beat.
"I respect Mister Harris," said Spc. Favon A. Dameron, a supply specialist for the 116th at Lagman. "He always tries to push me to be the best that I can be. I do it just because I look up to him. Before he ran it, I was shooting for around 1:45 time frame, but I'm going to have to step it up a little bit."
The unforgiving terrain at Lagman proved to be a real challenge for Dameron, who despite his best effort, fell short of Harris's time. But as several participants agreed, the race was not about winning or losing, it was about supporting each other.
"This was Captain Cristina Bacon's first time running the Army Ten-Miler, and I wanted to support her," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Edgar O. Marquis Jr., the 116th deputy information systems officer at KAF. "It felt good accomplishing something that many would not think of doing. Completing the Army Ten-Miler with my teammates was a big accomplishment all by itself."
Even for avid runners like Lt. Col. Erik Gordon who runs the Ten-Miler almost every year, group participation is a highlight of the event.
"Taking the group picture at the end" was the best part of the race, said Gordon, 116th senior liaison officer to Regional Command South.
Several of the Soldiers who participated were motivated by other members of the team.
"I was initially inspired by Lieutenant Colonel Gordon's willingness to run," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Velasco, the 116th combined joint operations center liaison officer. "It has always been a big motivator for me as a young trooper to see my superiors leading from the front."
"That has always been a thrill of mine," said Velasco, "to witness a team finishing something they started as a team."
The Stonewall Brigade is planning a Veterans' Day 11-11-11-11-Mile race and relay. The race will be open to individuals as well as relay teams.