WACO — Fourteen soldiers of Division West’s 120th Infantry Brigade made their way to participate in the 11th annual Miracle Match Marathon on Jan. 26.

The 120th’s marathon team gets together twice each week for long runs in preparation for the Army Marathon in Killeen on March 2. Along the way, they team up and participate in smaller marathons to train and build esprit de corps.

Oddly enough, Waco’s Miracle Match Marathon is coined “the toughest little marathon around,” according to Race Administrator Debbie Mabry. What makes the run so difficult is twofold: first, if you look at the Marathon’s marketing materials, they specify in all caps, “We LOVE our hills.” Second, they incorporate an optional obstacle known as Jacob’s Ladder at mile 11, towering at a very steep angle, and consisting of wooden logs with an unequal distance between each.

Several soldiers ran the course during 2013, so they knew what to expect.

Col. Timothy Bush, 120th Infantry Brigade commander, said it was “an awesome run, but those hills were ridiculous. This is going to hurt tomorrow, but that was a great run!”

In describing the best parts of the race that day, at first 2nd Lt. Genevieve Pena, a human resources officer, said “the zoo,” but then made a correction — “The best, best part about the run was the bacon.”

Apparently a local member of the community was cooking and handing out bacon to runners as they went by.

Pena and Human Resources noncommissioned officer Sgt. Danielle Furgeson, the only two females on the 120th’s run team, did the half marathon together and finished with a time of 1:58.

Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Hotz, an intelligence NCO, was thankful for the training leading up to the Miracle Match Marathon.

“It’s not that bad,” he said. “When you run four to five miles here, and eigth to nine miles there, after a while, it’s just a matter of not stopping.

“The hills were ridiculous,” he added with a smirk.

For Hotz, his knees left him pretty achy and in need of mild pain killers the next day.

One hundred percent of net proceeds from the event support the “Be the Match Registry,” which connects donors with people in need, through blood type, world-wide.

About 1,400 adults participated in the 11th annual Miracle Match Marathon, along with 700 children.

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