Press Room

U.S. Soldier in Kuwait Finishes Race "Remotely"

-----Email Message-----
From: Timothy Burgess
Sent: Mar 1, 2009 7:59 AM
To: Mark Winitz
Subject: NVM in Kuwait


Attached you will find some photos from today and a short statement; I wasn't sure how much info that you wanted but this will be more than enough.

My final time was 4:26:15 which I kept myself and also had one of my support crew keep separate "official" time; the time clock that I was provided only went up to 99:59, and I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to make that. I finished the first half at 2:00:15 plus/minus 10 seconds as the exact half-way point was a little fuzzy. I am proud that my total time almost 5 minutes faster than last year.

My marathon day started promptly at 5 am with sirens blaring and the camp's "Giant Voice" PA system announcing, "Attention! Attention! Ground Attack! Ground Attack!" then thankfully another announcement followed that this was an only an exercise. It was a bit abrupt, but I was no doubt awake. Also, I have known for a few days that this Force Protection exercise was planned. Because of this morning's exercise, I had to start my marathon an hour later at 8 am.

I had a good crew of guys that assisted me. There were two medics and they were in constant visual contact of me as they patrolled the course and followed me in a little SUV and mini-bus. I had 5 water/gatorade points every mile of the 5-mile loop with fancy labels and cones that I put out prior to my start this morning. Then I had another officer (CPT Sam Kang) run the first 15 miles with me as he is preparing for his first marathon next weekend at another camp in Kuwait. Also, I felt a little pride knowing that I am "officially" the first finisher of the 2009 Napa Valley Marathon; at least that is always going to be my side of the story. I did wear an ipod that I spent a lot of time last night trying to prepare the perfect playlist and, ironically, the title of the last 2 songs during my final mile were, "Are You Feeling This," and "Little Fighter." I felt great for the first 11 miles before I felt any soreness, and then just after mile 17 I started to slow (I was at just a little over 9 min/mile pace) to 9:50 miles until mile 21 and then I kind of shuffled along in the upper-10 to lower-11 min/miles. Those last two miles were pretty tough.

A funny story from last year is that someone in our group of four runners, he will remain anonymous and it was NOT me, ate some of the vaseline on the later part of the course. I did HAVE to tell that story here, though, and when I finished I was asked if I ate vaseline... No, but I did chew on a lot of sand.

Going into the run I had three major concerns: 1. Sandstorms (we had a big one on Fri and the air was really sandy on Sat, but today's weather was nearly perfect with a very light breeze), 2. Sand in my socks and between my toes that would essentially act like sandpaper (I did have some sand in my socks and between my toes, but it wasn't an issue), and 3. Washboards in the harder sand caused by the wind which are uneven and a good way to turn an ankle or torque a knee (they were a nuisance sometimes but not a problem). What was a problem, though, were rocks sticking up out of the sand; as I was finishing mile 10 I hit 3 of those rocks in the area between the ball of my foot and second toe. After that my foot was tender in that area and I seemed to run across several more in that same spot over the remainder of the course. Lastly, my achilles tendonitis wasn't an issue and I didn't expect much of a problem as long as I ran my race staying with the slower pace.

Ok, a little explanation of the pictures. There are 2 from the start; I am wearing the white shirt and in the tan is CPT Kang. I changed into a black, dry shirt and hat after 15 miles (it felt great to have something dry and a little lighter weight). There are various photos throughout the run and with three separate mile markers you can see what "great" scenery that I had... nothing like Napa, for sure, next year, though.

Then there are 3 photos at the finish: 1. One of the soldiers supporting me, PFC Benjamin Ayin, running the final 1/4 mile with me to the finisher; he was also the "official" timer, 2. Me holding the "Marathon Start/Finish" cone... I know pretty cool, especially sporting the awesome salt stains, and 3. Me with First- Sergeant (1SG) Jennings who awarded me the "coveted" tootsie-roll which was personally carried by him from his recent R&R trip to his home in Alaska. NOTE: it is going to be a little while before I want to drink another lemon-lime Gatorade, but the medics provided me with the Army's Optimum Hydration System (OHS) or Re-hydration System (ORS) which tasted just like drinking salt water... yummy!

Now I am just ready for a long nap, but alas I am too amped up for that.