About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oktoberfest Night Run (9-11)


This 8K race, held on 9-11, was sponsored by the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Ft. Bliss Army Base in El Paso, TX. I’ll use any excuse to visit a military base because it brings back memories of my years in the US Air Force. I spent 4 of my 20 years living near Ramstein AB in Germany and took advantage of all the wonderful food, beer, and festivities Germany had to offer. Many soldiers are running today and what a better way to remember the victims of the September 11 attacks than to run with the men and women who have been fighting on their behalf for 9 years?

Over 900 runners participated in the 17th annual event including service men and women from the US, Germany, and Japan. The race was not actually held after dark which was unfortunate because it was quite warm when we ran at 6 o’clock. Pre-race activities included music by the Big Fat Dixieland Band which I gathered was made up of members of the 62nd Army Band.

When we mustered at the starting line, I positioned myself towards the front knowing that many of the participants would be walking the 5k event. When we started running the first thing I noticed was the extremely dry desert air which made my throat and lungs sting. I started a little too fast, perhaps, because I made it to mile 2 in 15 minutes (fast for me). The course ran along the tree lined parade grounds on one side and officer housing on the other.

Soon I saw a runner who obviously went out too fast and was puking in the general’s front yard (better get some privates to clean that up). Trail running clubs give bonus points for that feat so “Hoo-ah to you, soldier”. I kept running, trying to hold my pace but it was a bit much for me so I backed off just a little. I was able to average a little better than an 8 minute pace throughout the race and finished just under 40 minutes. An improvement over last year’s time.

Following the race I enjoyed a bratwurst and coke (can’t handle the beer anymore) just like I did at the many volksmarches I participated in years ago. Volksmarches are walking events (10K or 20K) that German villages put on every year. When walkers finish the course, which winds through the countryside, they get an “award”; usually a decorative beer stein depicting the town, nearby castle, or any other item of interest. On almost any given weekend you could find a volksmarche within an hours drive, and over the course of my four years in Germany I must have collected 40 awards.

The best part of the Oktoberfest was coming up next; the Schuhplattler dancers, a group that performs the traditional dances of Bavaria. The men and women were dressed in traditional German garb and danced to the favored “oom-pah” music of the alpine region of the old country. This brought back great memories of times spent in the towns of Garmisch, Oberstdorf, and Innsbruck which I used as base camps for alpine wandering. The dances were very entertaining complete with thigh slapping, twirling and even one that included wood chopping.

German-American friendship was abundant this evening which shows that once warring nations can make amends and become great allies. On this 9th anniversary of the horrible events of 9-11 let’s remember who, and against what we, as a nation, are fighting. –terrorists and terrorism. See you on the trail.

Alps near Oberstdorf, Germany

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