By Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
Over 1,500 runners braved the elements Sunday morning to honor our heroes during the 3rd Annual Army Marathon. The event celebrated the Armed Forces and others who serve, including police, firefighters, and other first responders. The run also commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Runners were treated to an after party at the finish line with an awards presentation, music from the 60s and 70s, and local vendors who came out to show their support.
Representing the Department of Defense Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Convention, Command Sargent Major (CSM) Jimmy W. Spencer, was showing his support at the finish line.
“It wasn’t very many years ago that we did not honor veterans, we did not thank our returning soldiers who came back from the war,” said CSM Spencer. “That was a mistake.”
Memorial Day, 2012, President Obama spoke to veterans at the Vietnam Memorial saying “the Vietnam era was a dark period in our history and we are going to try our hardest to rectify that.” Of course, we thank all veterans, “but we owe a special thanks to our Vietnam Veterans,” added CSM Spencer.
“We are thrilled and moved to see such a wonderful turnout this year from the community and our veterans,” said Ed Bandas, President of the Army Marathon. “Our goal is to become the largest marathon in the country that directly honors the service and sacrifice of our country’s Armed Forces, and we are well on our way.”
The event drew in people from all over Texas, as well as traveling from other states to participate in the full marathon, half marathon, or 5k to honor those who serve.
Matt Buchhorn of Sherman placed first among the men in the marathon – a 26.2 mile course cutting from Killeen to Temple – with an impressive finishing time of 2 hours 53 minutes and 25.8 seconds. First place among the women went to Ruel Sword of Waco, who finished the marathon with an equally notable time of 3:28:6.
The military unit with the fastest combined four finishers in the full marathon will receive the “Strength In Unity” Trophy that will be presented to their unit this month.
The finalists for the half marathon included Michael Kurvach of Fort Hood who took home first place among the men and Ginger Stoker of Austin who took home first place among the women.
First place in the 5k went to Tannery Casey of Harker Heights in the men’s division while first places in women’s went to Laura Bliss of Killeen.
Jay Taggart, the Community Representative and Chairman of the 13th COSCOM Association was also present at the event. “We thank you for being here today to honor our Vietnam Veterans as well as all our other heroes,” he said.
“It takes a lot of fortitude to come out on a day like today and run the Army Marathon and I suspect that bragging rights are going to be spread out over the years,” CSM Spencer added. “ My hat’s off to you.”
The 3rd Annual Army Marathon was produced in partnership with Baylor Scott & White Health, Central Texas College, as well as other generous sponsors.
For a full list of race winners by age group and category, please visit www.TheArmyMarathon.com. A special thank you to those who serve!