Capt. Michelle Lunato
359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade
Over 500 deployed service members and civilians participated in an Army Ten-Miler Shadow Oct. 17 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
The event, hosted by the Vermont National Guard’s 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was one of six official shadow runs held in Afghanistan.
The official Army Ten-Miler is held along the scenic streets of Washington, D.C.
Runners in Bagram’s Shadow Run had to trade in views of the Pentagon and the Washington Monument for tactical vehicles and perimeter fences.
However, the change in scenery did not change the motivation for running, many participants said.
"I love competition … not necessarily against everyone else, but I suppose it’s the challenge of training and working hard to set personal records and then being able to look back and see how I’ve improved," Atlanta resident Army 1st Lt. Emile Hawkins Jr., fusion cell project officer, 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, said.
In addition to supporting fitness goals, the Army Ten-Miler has another mission: To build esprit de corps. In the coalition environment of Bagram, unified teamwork is critical, and the Shadow Run is one way to show the true meaning of teamwork, Columbia, S.C. resident Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cynthia Thomas, enterprise system administrator, Joint NetOps Control Center – Afghanistan, 359th TTSB, said.
Adding, "Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results, and without teamwork, we cannot succeed here."
Being able to run with people you work with rather than random strangers was definitely a bonus, said the Shadow Run’s first place male runner, Auburn, Calif. resident Army Spc. Michael Burham, military intelligence system maintainer, 1st Military Intelligence Battalion. "It helps immensely with the morale. It also helps break the monotony here."
As the Ten-Miler was a way to break up the repetitiveness of deployment for some, it was a way to bring a sense of home to others.
"I try to compete in the Ten-Miler every year, said Moorehead, Miss. resident Army Maj. Marilyn Walls, commander, 510th Human Resources Company.
Adding, "And after completing in over ten races, competing while deployed, was just like being at home," she said. "It helps me have a sense of normalcy here."
The multi-national nature of the official Ten-Miler was not lost at the Bagram Shadow Run.
Runners from Bosnia, Pakistan, Russia, and Korea could be seen along-side deployed soldiers, marines, coast guardsmen, sailors, airmen, Department of Defense civilians and contractors.
The coalition presence in the run was meaningful said Jacksonville, Fla. resident Army Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Friedbauer, parachute rigger, Combined Joint Special Forces Operation Task Force – Afghanistan. "In the states you are running for yourself. Here, you are running for your country."
Although the run had to be re-routed due to force protection measures at the last minute, runners ran just over eight miles.
The winners were Michael Burham from Task Force Condor with 50:19, and Capt. Ronnee Farrell of Task Force Workhorse with 57:52.