It happened so quickly, I almost forgot about it. With packet pick up, checking out the course, dropping off my bike, finding a place to eat and general pre-race nonsense, I almost forgot about Sept.11th. It was only as I was going to bed, that I turned on the TV and there it was on History Channel, a special on that horrible day, bringing it back into perspective. My fear and anxiety about the Rev3 Triathlon in the morning went away. As I fell asleep, I said a prayer for each and every person who was affected by that day and realized how lucky I am.
7000 miles away, 4 Chicago area athletes were getting ready to run in The Chicago Half Marathon and 5K. No that's not a distance error on my part, these runners, are also soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
While we deal with "problems" like traffic, work, kids and if our coffee has 1/2 Soy 1/2 Skim. Each and every day they deal with the reality that today might be their last day on earth. Running has become their stress release and The Chicago 1/2 Marathon and 5K, their race.
Two days before 20,000 runners hit the streets of Chicago, local athletes, and soldiers, Jack Wilbanks (Chicago), Kevin Yandura (Joliet), Rob Leese (North Chicago) and Jeff Poisson (Glen Ellyn) among other U.S. soldiers competed in their own version of The Chicago 1/2 Marathon and 5K. Instead of running down Lake Shore Drive, they ran through a war torn country 7000 miles away.
"We have a small contingent of US forces, mainly Air Force that are deployed to Kabul International Airport as mentors for one year," says Team Lead Afghanistan National Air Force Wing G1 Mentor, David Burnett. "We are trying to keep our troops motivated and in shape while here and since our facilities and equipment are minimal, many have taken up running. Running the Chicago Half Marathon 5K is a great way for our military members to feel a little more like they are closer to home. Also, an important part of running the race is to honor the men and women who are serving our great country and sacrificing so much to fight the war on terror and to ensure we have freedom for many more years to come."
It doesn't matter where you stand on the issue of the war, these four brave American soldiers along with many other soldiers that serve with the United States Air Force, have found training for the 2010 Chicago Half Marathon to be an outlet from their daily missions in Afghanistan.
Congratulations on a great day, and thank you for your service. We salute you.