AL ASAD, Iraq -- Service members and civilians came from all over Iraq Oct. 29 to participate in the first Marine Corps Marathon hosted at Al Asad, Iraq.
The 26.2 mile race through the streets of the air base included a hill and several obstacles such as speed bumps, sand covered roadways and rain.
"We are absolutely impervious to weather, and it doesn't affect us," said Capt. Thomas Bedell, AV-8B Harrier pilot, Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). "We're going 26.2 miles even if it starts hailing on us."
In the cool chill of the morning, runners and volunteers met to prepare for the race, which would start at 6:30 a.m. and last until shortly after noon.
As they stretched and mentally prepared themselves, the enthusiasm and shouts of the bystanders brought on a seemingly ecstatic boost of morale for the runners.
"I think this event is awesome," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexis Miller, corpsman, Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd MAW. "Something like this helps everyone come together and build camaraderie."
Upon the start of the race, the runners took off at a grueling pace, pushing themselves through the isolation of running a course that had nothing more than sandy backgrounds to look at.
"The out and back twice (style course) made it hard not having different scenery," said Capt. Ben Friedrick, operations officer and EA-6B Prowler pilot, Marine Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, Marine Central Command. "Overall, it was a great course, and the weather was excellent."
Friedrick was the first male to cross the finish line with a time of 3:06:03. He has participated in other marathons, but this is his first official Marine Corps Marathon.
The top female finisher was Cpl. Amy Lane, Arabic linguist, 2nd Radio Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force, who completed the race with a time of 3:33:54.
"All I wanted was to qualify for the Boston Marathon," said Lane. "I had no idea I was going to be the first female to cross the line, and I didn't expect it."
The race in Iraq started just 11 hours before the well-known Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
"To have the joint effort here and in the states is a great thing," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Darian Rice, flight surgeon, MWSG-37. "I think this is a great effort, and the worldwide camaraderie that is built here is wonderful."
After completing the race, all the participants' times were sent back to the official Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., where they were entered into the record books as officially running the race.
"I think it's great that even though we are over here in Iraq, we still have the ability to do this type of an event," said 1st Sgt. Robert Palechek, first sergeant, Headquarters Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). "I know there are a lot of individuals who go on deployments and want to improve their (physical training) and run marathons. This is a great way of testing that.