BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The spirit of the Marathon was definitely alive and kicking in Afghanistan, as service members and civilian contractors took part in the annual Bagram Boston Marathon this past weekend.
Soldiers with the 101st Sustainment Brigade were also caught up in the spirit as members took part in the coveted road race.
First Lt. Heidi Miller, Human Resources officer in charge, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, was the overall winner in the women’s division, finishing the 26.2 mile course in three hours, 20 minutes.
“We went out there to have fun and finish. We didn’t really care if we won this,” Miller said immediately after her victory. “I’m happy about it, definitely. It’s a big thing I guess… stumbling toward the finish line. We made it.”
Runners arrived at the starting point on Disney Drive during the early morning hours to take part in the grueling race.
“Yeah, the 2:30 in the morning showtime is definitely different,” said Capt. Merlin Kynaston, Alpha Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade. “I’m definitely looking forward to work this morning after the race.”
The Boston Marathon is seen as New England’s most widely viewed sport. Its hilly terrain and varying weather can present even the most seasoned runner with challenges.
The Bagram Boston Marathon is considered a “shadow run,” or a race that takes place under the same banner, but in a different location. Instead of the famed “Heartbreak Hill,” runners in Afghanistan run the airfield’s dusty perimeter at a higher altitude than the famed course.
Miller and several other Lifeliners spent the last several months training for the race.
“We have been getting out there quite a bit, Miller said.
The main objective, she said was to have fun. “I didn’t really think that part through,” she said, when asked what time she expected to finish the race in.
Fellow Lifeliner Sgt. Maj. Jose Figueroa, senior logistics supervisors, Support Operations, 101st Sustainment Brigade, was the first Lifeliner male to finish the marathon, coming in at three hours, 33 minutes.
He was also the oldest Lifeliner to compete.
“I feel good, but I feel my 48 years,” he said after the race.
Six members of the Lifeliners Brigade competed in the marathon. This was a first attempt for most, while a couple had done so back in the states. They all said this was their first marathon conducted in a combat environment.
Kynaston said he hoped to finish the race in three hours, 45 minutes.
“I’m also hoping that (Miller) does not kill him on this run because she’s a speed demon,” he said.
Kynaston said he has done the Bataan Memorial Death march twice with a ruck sack. “This was a whole other experience.”