By Maj. Chevelle Thomas
3rd BCT, 1st Infantry Division public affairs
JALALABAD AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN — The 24th Army ten-miler took place in Washington D.C. Sunday; however, 7,000 miles away in Jalalabad, Afghanistan at 1,400 feet elevation and 5,000 feet mountaintops, 121 members of Task Force Duke, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, participated in the Fenty Army 10-miler shadow run.
With the time difference between D.C. and Jalalabad, the runners were not running at the same time, but they were still joined by the spirit of the event.
The top three winners for each gender in Afghanistan were recognized with bronze, silver and gold medals, donated by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation center along with free T-shirts for all participants.
For the men, first place went to Maj. Keith E. Matiskella, from Killeen with a time of 58 minutes and 14 seconds; second place went to Richard Mangongo from Kisii, Kenya, with a time of 66, and third place went to David Claassen from Fredericksburg, Va., with a time of 66:5.
For the women, first place went to Sgt. Kristal Reszler from Roslyn, Wash., with a time of 79:36; second place went to 1st Lieutenant Jean Archer from Champaign, Ill., with a time of 86:6, and third place went to Staff Sgt. Karina Diaz from Pomona, Calif., with a time of 87:23.
The run, hosted by the 201st Base Support Battalion who planned the run as a tradition for their unit in order to build camaraderie among troops and civilians alike, consisted of a few laps around the Nangarhar Terminal airfield, which is a mixture of paved and gravel surfaced roads.
The participants of all levels of fitness and ages ran, jogged and walked around the 3.5 mile loop 2.5 times with airplanes and helicopters taking off constantly. No one quit and the organizers stayed on hand until the last participant crossed the finish line.
The event kicked off with registration starting at 5 a.m., followed by opening remarks by the TF Duke Commander. Just before the kick off of the run at 6:30 a.m. he welcomed everyone and expressed his appreciation for their participation in the day’s event.
“Thank you for coming out. Thank you for what you are doing for the Army. Take care of your buddy and good luck to everyone and have a good time,” Col. John Spiszer, 3rd BCT, 1st ID commander, said.
Many of the participants trained up for the run in a variety of ways.
Matiskella, an avid runner, whose wife, Maj. Paty Hinshaw is running in D.C. today emphasized the importance of preparation and setting a good pace for the run. He spoke of the many late nights running on the treadmill while listening to audio books on his iPod.
“It is my way of relaxing after a days work. Running is more of a hobby than it is work for me. Over the years, I have experienced many runs and if you start off too hard, too slow or make a wrong turn it can be very challenging to complete the race,” Maj. Keith Matiskella, 3rd BCT, 1st ID engineer officer said. “My biggest challenge was that the gravel was very hard to run on at times. So, I have to get the entire route paved,” the engineer jokingly said.
He went on to talk about how he could relate life in Afghanistan to life at home in the states. The journey is the excitement of getting there and learning more from the actual highlight of the event.
“Anything that adds a bit of normalcy to the everyday life while deployed is a benefit. It also gives people a goal to shoot for, which helps pass the time as you train up and work towards the goal,” Matiskella who was on the Army 2007, Fort Hood team that won the Commanders Cup for 1st place said.
Reszler who participated in the Shadow run at Camp Liberty, Iraq, two years ago said, “My time was better here then at Liberty, because I ran 7 miles every other day, both outside and on the treadmill and I ran shorter speed workouts on the off days,” C/62nd Engineer Battalion Tactical Operations Center nightshift noncommissioned officer in charge said.
Even the embedded NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel, who also ran the race made note of the benefits of all types of exercise and how it keeps him fit as he goes from place to place to keep the international community informed of worldly events.
“I am always on the road from hotel to hotel. I try to do something no matter where I am. I sometimes will go for a swim, run on a treadmill or something like this. So running the ten-miler with the Soldiers was a special treat, which I have never done before. I didn’t quite keep up with the Soldiers, but everyone was extremely nice and cheering me on and Maj Skip Masterson, ‘the antagonizer,’ made sure I did not fall too far behind,” Engel said.
“It’s great to have events like this where you can see everyone from the full bird Colonels on the FOB, to the youngest privates, to the KBR workers out there running and sweating their tails off together,” Capt. Gretchen Gardner, 201st Base Support Battalion Adjutant, said.