Runners get ready to mirror Iraq race
For the third consecutive year, a Honolulu Marathon satellite race will be run in the Middle East war zone.
Finishers in Iraq will receive the same T-shirt, medal, shell lei and official certificate as their Honolulu counterparts, and they have to send applications to be processed in Honolulu. The $105 registration fee is waived for the Iraq race.
The Honolulu Marathon at a base in Iraq's Sunni Triangle is scheduled for Dec. 10, the same date as the Honolulu race, said Capt. Nicole Dunford-Powell, co-coordinator and a flight surgeon with Task Force Diamond Head, the 2nd Battalion of the 25th Aviation Regiment of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division.
"Everyone is super excited," she said. "We are grateful to the Honolulu Marathon for supporting us. It means so much to us. The 25th Division has a high rate of participation in the Honolulu Marathon, so it is good they can do it here again."
"We support this satellite marathon as an oasis of peaceful competition in a place where our troops face round-the-clock peril," said Pat Bigold, spokesman for the Honolulu Marathon.
The Iraq race will be held within COB (contingency operations base) Speicher, home of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division.
Runners will do four laps of an unimproved road within the compound, Dunford-Powell said.
Because of the 13-hour time difference, the Iraq runners will get a head start. They'll be starting their awards banquet at about the same time of the start of the Honolulu race.
"It will be special to be able to celebrate our day's achievement and know that friends and family on Oahu are kicking off their fun," Dunford-Powell said.
The race director said she expects at least 200 runners.
"About 50 already have expressed their intent after hearing about it through word of mouth," she said. "Folks will fly in from all over."
The field will include several who have run the marathon in Honolulu as well as in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, in 2004, and in Baghdad last year.
Capt. Mike Baskin, who won the 2004 race at Tarin Kowt, is deploying to Iraq soon and may arrive in time for the Dec. 10 race, said Dunford-Powell, who also ran in Afghanistan two years ago and has completed the Honolulu race three times.
Participants will be in regular running attire, she said, and they will be protected.
"The division wants to mitigate the risk, so we will have security," she said. "We don't want to put runners in harm's way."
The marathon office in Honolulu will send race applications to Iraq, which will be returned to Honolulu for processing with the entry fee waived, Bigold said.