‘Army Strong’ completes Presidents Day run

| February 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
Army Soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gregory C. Bilton, deputy commanding general of operations at U.S. Army-Pacific, enter Aloha Stadium during the 33rd Annual Kaiser Permanente Great Aloha Run, Feb. 20, 2017. Military units were encouraged to participate in the Sounds of Freedom category of the GAR, running in formation throughout the race. The 8.15-mile race began at Aloha Tower and ended at Aloha Stadium. (U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong)

Army Soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gregory C. Bilton, deputy commanding general of operations at U.S. Army-Pacific, enter Aloha Stadium during the 33rd Annual Kaiser Permanente Great Aloha Run, Monday. Military units were encouraged to participate in the Sounds of Freedom category of the GAR, running in formation throughout the race. (U.S. Army photos by Kristen Wong)

Kristen Wong
Contributing Writer
HONOLULU — More than 13,000 participants as well as military units streamed through Aloha Stadium, completing the 33rd Annual Kaiser Permanente Great Aloha Run, Monday (Feb. 20).

Army spouse Maritza McAulay (center), poses for a photo.

Army spouse Maritza McAulay (center), poses for a photo.

The 8.15-mile run, which began at Aloha Tower and ended at Aloha Stadium, was open to the general public. Competitors ran, walked or used a hand cycle to the finish line.

Participants could win in various challenges, such as the High School Challenge and Lucky Seven Teams. There was also entertainment, such as Stacie Ku‘ulei and the Acoustik Playground Band, as well as the University of Hawaii Band.

“It’s great to be here in Aloha Stadium for all of you that chose to get up this morning, bright and early on this windy beautiful Hawaiian day, to come and choose to be healthy and active and enjoy this great, great community event,” said Mary Ann Barnes, the president of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.

Army Strong
As the first finishers came in, volunteers and staff cheered them on, giving them high fives.

Army spouse Maritza McAulay took first place in the female military elite category, finishing in 51 minutes and 32 seconds. She considers the GAR one of her favorite races on the island. She said she favors the race for its distance, as well as its aloha spirit, and the cheering people who keep her going.

“It was really fun,” McAulay said. “I really enjoyed it.”

She said although the race was windy, she just had to block it out of her head.

“The weather will be whatever it’s going to be,” she said.
McAulay said she came in approximately nine minutes faster than last year.

Army Soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gregory C. Bilton, deputy commanding general of operations at U.S. Army-Pacific, enter Aloha Stadium.

Army Soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gregory C. Bilton, deputy commanding general of operations at U.S. Army-Pacific, enter Aloha Stadium.

Sounds of Freedom
The Sounds of Freedom is a category of the Great Aloha Run dedicated to the military. Military units are encouraged to register and run in formation during the race. Various Army units in Hawaii waved their guidons in the GAR this year.

“If you get really, really tired, there’s people to back you up, cheer you on and give you water,” said Staff Sgt. Leadrean Jordan, the battalion chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear noncommissioned officer in charge at the 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

The race was the very first Great Aloha Run for Jordan, who has only been stationed in Hawaii for a month.

“They’re a great team,” she said of her unit. “They push everybody to pass their limits.”

Army Soldiers assigned to the 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, participate in the Great Aloha Run. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Army Soldiers assigned to the 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, participate in the Great Aloha Run. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Staff Sgt. Tessieneil Wiggins, a supply sergeant for the 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, was among the Soldiers running in the Sounds of Freedom.

“I like doing runs; it’s fun,” she said. “(Running with the unit) was great. It creates morale and cohesion in the company.”

Display of force
During the awards ceremony at the run, U.S. Army-Hawaii was honored as the largest unit in formation in the Sounds of Freedom.

Maj. Gen. Gregory C. Bilton, the deputy commanding general of Operations at U.S. Army-Pacific, and Col. Mario A. Diaz, deputy division commander, Support, 25th Infantry Division, came up to the stage to represent the Army.

“It’s a great privilege to run with the community here in Hawaii,” Bilton said. “We love this place. We love being posted here, and these events just remind us how special Hawaii is, so once again, thank you to the organizers and the sponsors.”

Funds raised by the Great Aloha Run go to various nonprofit organizations, community groups and human service organizations. The United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii also currently partners with the Great Aloha Run and receives funding from the proceeds as well.

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Category: Community, Community Relations

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