While many of their counterparts enjoyed sleeping late, 395 service members, civilians and family members in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart started their Saturday morning with a 13-mile or five-kilometer run July 16.
But it was more than just a chance to exercise. The fourth annual Run to Remember, hosted by USAG Stuttgart Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), provided them with a way to memorialize friends, family and loved ones killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001.
At 7:30 a.m., all of the runners gathered in front of the 1/10th SFG(A), building on Panzer Kaserne for the run’s opening ceremony, led by Lt. Col. Peltier, 1/10th SFG(A) commander, and Maj. Ashton Reid, the unit’s foreign service officer, who read the names of loves ones killed in action, submitted by community members. Sgt. 1st Class David Battaly performed taps.
Then, the 5K run began, followed by the half-marathon, which wound around the Panzer Local Training Area and finished back on Panzer Kaserne. A total of 163 runners participated in the half-marathon, with 232 in the 5K.
“It’s such a personal event,” said Holly Ogren, USAG Stuttgart FMWR fitness coordinator. “When they submit names for the ceremony, these are people that they know and have loved and miss. This is a way for them to memorialize and remember them through a running event.”
It wasn’t an easy run either, according to race veteran Veronica Carreon. The half-marathon included several hills over rocky terrain.
What kept Carreon running was the face depicted on her T-shirt: her cousin, Sgt. Jose Refugio Escobedo Jr., who was killed in Iraq in 2009.
“I just remember how he was a very happy person and that’s what carried me through the whole run today,” Carreon said.
Another half-marathon runner, Marty Smith, ran for Spc. Christopher Stark, who was killed in Afghanistan in early 2011. He said that the physical pain of the run is a good reminder of the price men like Stark paid for American freedom.
“It’s good for everybody to remember the guys who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “No matter how hard this race is, you think about those guys, and you look at the memorial signs posted and it just keeps you going.”
Smith, a Navy retiree, has been involved in the Run to Remember since its inception in 2008, when the 1/10th SFG(A), chaplain at the time, Capt. Jerry Waldrop, came up with the idea.
Since then, it has doubled in size from around 200 runners to nearly 400. Additionally, the 1/10th SFG(A), Family Readiness Group has made a tradition of hosting a post-race barbecue as a fundraiser.
“It’s great to see it get even bigger and better,” Smith said.
Because of the event’s size, many volunteers are needed to coordinate the run, Ogren said.
Approximately 96 volunteers supported the event this year, including those from 1/10th SFG(A); 52nd Signal Battalion, 587th Signal Company; Headquarters, U.S. European Command; Community Bank and the U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart.
“This run is truly not possible without the volunteers,” she said. “To man that course, plus [the] finish line and set up, etc. — it takes a lot of race support.”
Half-marathon — 1, John Scudder, 1:24:02.3. 2, Colby Broadwater, 1:25:28.7. 3, Thomas Trevino, 1:25:57.9.
5K —1, Morgan Mahlock, 20:50.6. 2, Joshua Camacho, 20:59.9. 3, Jacob Camacho, 21:20.6.
For complete results, visit www.stuttgartmwr.com. For more photos, visit www.flickr.com/photos/usagstuttgart.