Servicemembers Take on Baghdad Boilermaker
Tech. Sgt. Amanda Callahan
Servicemembers Take Part in Baghdad Boilermaker
SATHER AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- The first Baghdad Boilermaker started with two Airmen from New York who just wanted to run the country's largest 15-kilometer race. Master Sgts. James Carrabba and Jeffrey Conant, both deployed from the 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse, N.Y., have run the original Boilermaker in Utica, N.Y., a combined eight times and wanted to relive the occasion here, as well as share it with others deployed to the camps surrounding Baghdad International Airport.
"I love the race and was bummed out that I was going to miss it," said Sergeant Conant, a Mohawk, N.Y., native. "I was so excited to see so many runners at our race."
With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees at the 5 a.m. start time, more than 240 deployed servicemembers from the Victory Base complex gathered to begin the more than 9-mile race.
Col. David Pavey, the 447th Air Expeditionary Group commander, spoke to the runners. "Thank you for coming so early and taking the time to visit and participate," he said. "I'd also like to thank you for your time serving your country at this historic time for both the United States and Iraq. You are all winners already; I know you will not falter and you will not fail!"
The route took runners from paved roads on Sather Air Base through gravel and sand, adding new challenges for those who have run the traditional Boilermaker.
"The biggest difference of course was running in a desert environment," said Sergeant Carrabba, a native of Laurens, N.Y. "A lot of our Baghdad Boilermaker was on gravel road. It was an awesome run here."
Sergeant Conant dealt with different challenges.
"It is hot in Utica, but here, right after I would take a drink of water, I needed water again," he said.
The two master sergeants worked together to plan the event in less than two weeks. They recruited more than 50 volunteers from the 447th AEG.
"There was a lot of stress and nervousness, but we pulled it off," Sergeant Conant said. "We could'nt have done it without the super performance of all of the volunteers."
Unlike the Utica race, music along the course wasn't performed by bands. The Baghdad Boilermaker had another unique twist, thanks to an entertaining duo whom the organizer had requested by name.
"Music and motivation out on the course was aptly delivered by the Baghdaddies, Senior Airmen Dane Miller and Jeremy Wirth," Sergeant Carrabba said. "They were great out there. They really made it fun, and they motivated me to go faster!"
There was another unexpected change for Sergeant Carrabba. Although he thought the terrain would pose a disadvantage, he was able to beat his best traditional Boilermaker time.
"My time was 67 minutes," he said. "I was thinking I would do 1:20, so I had a lot faster time than I was expecting."
The time may have decreased, but the morale for the pair increased by sharing this event with so many other deployed Soldiers, Airmen, Sailers, Marines and civilians.
"All the runners I talked to -- and that was a lot of them -- said the same thing: it was a great race, a great experience, and 'thank you' for putting on the race," Sergeant Conant said. "I am thrilled. Without a doubt, this is the high point of my deployment."
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