FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEMORIAL DAY DATE INSPIRES "SHADOW"
LOS ANGELES MARATHON AT CAMP TAJI, IRAQ
LOS ANGELES, California, May 14, 2009 – "I am aware that the Los Angeles
Marathon will be held on Memorial Day of this year. Our plan here in Iraq
is to have a Marathon for the troops on the same day as the L.A. Marathon
is taking place. We would love to shadow your race on that day. We would
schedule our Marathon at midnight, however, due to the heat in the day
"We would like to get the L.A. Marathon organization involved with our
Marathon. Many troops deployed here, myself included, are missing out on
many of the marathons back in the states this year and are eager to
participate in a race while away from home. I thought that it would be
great to be able to share an opportunity to not only run a marathon, a
first for many, but also to be able to run one in Iraq, and with your
organization's help, be able to bring home a medal."
That message from 1st Lt. Jeremy Arnett of the 56th Stryker Brigade of the
Army National Guard was the start of a unique cooperation with the Los
Angeles Marathon that will see 400 or more servicemen and women run in the
Camp Taji Memorial Day Marathon and Half Marathon, beginning at 10 p.m.
local time (noon Los Angeles time) on Sunday, May 24 in Al-Taji, Iraq.
"Of course, we said yes immediately," noted L.A. Marathon president Russ
Pillar. "It's an honor to support our troops on Memorial Day and we are
providing all of the support we can to make their race as memorable for
them as for our runners here."
A steady stream of shipments has already arrived in Iraq, with L.A.
Marathon race bibs and T-shirts for all of the participants, finisher
medals, Clif Bars and Clif Shot electrolyte replacement cubes and a finish
"The turn out for this is much greater than I expected," wrote Arnett in an
electronic-mail message in early May. "I believe that a lot of it has to do
with the loss of one of our soldiers recently and also the fact that the
L.A. Marathon is sponsoring us. Honestly, when I mention that you are
shadowing us, people are really excited about that aspect of it."
The enthusiasm for the Camp Taji races has already spread outside Iraq:
Two American servicemen in Afghanistan heard about the Camp Taji race
and are also putting together their own marathon on Memorial Day.
Emily Harte of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has been running marathons
ever since she was encouraged by her friend Karen Bender about a dozen
years ago. She wrote, "When Karen deployed to Iraq I wasn't sure what I
would do without my running partner. When she told me about the marathon
they were having in Iraq that was sponsored by the L.A. Marathon it was
then I decided to run it. I realized the hours would be different, but it
would be like running it with her.
"When I signed up, they let me design my own race number so I thought that
I could 'run4Taji' and all the soldiers there and their families here that
they are not with, in order to support and defend our country."
The Camp Taji marathon and half-marathon has been arranged on a loop
course, with two loops comprising the 26.2-mile marathon distance. The
event has free entry, and all donations and other proceeds will be given to
the family members of the 56th Stryker Brigade Fallen Soldiers Fund.
Video highlights of the race will be featuring during the KNBC Television
broadcast of the Los Angeles Marathon on Monday, May 25.