Soldiers in Afghanistan compete in Anchorage marathon

By the dawn's early light, soldiers from Fort Richardson found fleeting respite from war last week when a small reminder of home brought something ordinary to an extraordinary place.

As a couple thousand runners converged on downtown Anchorage for the Big Wild Life Runs last Sunday, a companion event was held near Sharana, Afghanistan, where members of Fort Rich's 725th Brigade Support Battalion are midway through a year-long deployment.

About 150 people — troops and civilians alike, including a runner who showed up in the results simply as Mr. Mohammad — toed the starting line for the desert edition of the Skinny Raven Half-Marathon.

The race happened through the efforts of the Anchorage Running Club and Capt. Margaret Berryman of the 725th Brigade. Berryman approached the running club with the idea of staging a shadow race for troops in Afghanistan, and the running club responded by sending five boxes filled with race bibs, medals and commemorative race T-shirts.

"This race was a little bit of home — hugely encouraging," Sgt. Jesse Lind wrote in an e-mail of thanks to the running club.

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