A Virginia native who has run the last 10 consecutive Chicago Marathons did not want to break from that tradition after he was deployed to Afghanistan. So he took matters into his own hands.
As an attempt to boost morale, Army National Guard Captain John Zimmerman gathered a group of fellow runners interested in participating in a "satellite" run of the prestigious race and contacted marathon organizers across the Atlantic. The result of that correspondence, a satellite Chicago Marathon, took place Friday morning on the U.S. military's base in Kabul, Afghanistan.
According to a marathon spokeswoman, Chicagoan William Boland emerged as the winner, completing 10 revolutions of the 2.62 mile course, constructed within the base's bounds, in 3 hours, 19 minutes and 2 seconds. Zimmerman, the race's principal organizer, completed the race in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 32 seconds. The top female finisher, Deborah Hoover of Yelm, Wash., completed the race in 4 hours, 6 minutes and 56 seconds.
Boland told the Chicago Tribune after winning the race that the experience "really was awesome."
"I'm really looking forward to getting back to the United States and being able to run another marathon at a much lower altitude and with much cleaner air," Boland told the Tribune. The altitude in Kabul is, incidentally, over 5,000 feet. "I think it’d be kind of fun to see how fast I could do it then."
The marathoners, of which there were over 150 representing a number of NATO forces from Canada, Spain, France and elsewhere, raised $12,000 for the St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
WATCH some of the Chicago Marathon Afghanistan satellite runners talking about the race: