July 28, 2010

1-116th hosts historic Virginia 10 Miler in Iraq

By 1st Lt. Patrick Wilson
1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment Public Affairs

COB ADDER, Iraq — Lynchburg’s own 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment hosted an Iraq version of the historic Lynchburg-based Virginia 10 Miler race July 27 at their post in Southern Iraq. The Virginia Army National Guard unit is currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


The gun goes off July 25, 2010 at the start of the Virginia 10 Miler at COB Adder, Iraq hosted by the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment of Lynchburg, Va. (Army Photo by 1st Lt. Thomas Cook, 1-116th)

The Iraq race was organized by Soldiers from the battalion and had the full support and encouragement of Lynchburg’s Riverside Runners. Race director Jeff Fedorko of Lynchburg worked with dozens of volunteers in the community in just over 30 days to collect all the race supplies, t-shirts and prizes for runners. The race was substantially underwritten by Liberty University Online and the race’s “name” sponsors, Genworth Financial.

A total of 359 runners completed the race, which included those who ruck marched with a pack and weapon and those who competed as part of company teams. Contingency Operating Base Adder in Southern Iraq is temporary home to many units in addition to the 1-116th.  Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and civilians all participated in this version of the Hill City classic.


Ruck Marchers start the Virginia 10 Miler at COB Adder, Iraq hosted by the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment of Lynchburg, Va. (Army Photo by 1st Lt. Thomas Cook, 1-116th)

“The race was a great success,” said Lt. Col. Scott Smith of Lynchburg, the battalion commander. “We are so grateful to the community back in Lynchburg who made this event possible. The volunteers from Riverside Runners provided all of the T-shirts, race bib numbers, medals and the same start/finish banner used back home in Lynchburg’s race. It was 100% authentic.” 

Smith was joined at the start by Col. Lisa Costanza, commander of the 224th Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). Smith and 84 of his Soldiers completed the race.  It was 96 degrees by 0630.

The battalion’s top runners included two brothers- Spcs. Eskinder and Solomon Zemene of Alexandria, Va.  The brothers, who deployed together and are assigned to Company B, are students at North Virginia Community College.

"It's a great accomplishment for these Soldiers and we are very proud of the way they represented Bravo Company and the entire battalion," said Capt. Heath Phillips of Elkton, Va., their company commander. Bravo Company subsequently won the company team competition and was presented with a ceremonial “battle streamer” at an awards ceremony July 26 at COB Adder by Col. Jonathan Ball, the 256th Brigade commander.


Runners gather near the starting line before the race. A total of 359 runners competed in the race. (Army Photo by 1st Lt. Thomas Cook, 1-116th)

“An event like this demonstrates the far reaching impact a community event like the Virginia Ten Miler can have,” said Fedorko. “It is our goal to increase troop morale both here and abroad, and highlight the commitment and sacrifice our troops are making.”

“Liberty University is proud to be a part of this event to show our appreciation to our dedicated service members,” explained Emily Foutz, director of military affairs at Liberty. “We are honored to have the opportunity to serve over 15,000 military personnel, veterans, and their spouses as they work towards their educational goals.”

The Virginia Ten Miler begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 at E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg. Proceeds from the event will go to the Coalition for HIV Awareness & Prevention of Central Virginia. For more information or to register for the race, please visit www.virginiatenmiler.com

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