Members of Combined Joint Task Force Take Part in the 28th Annual Grand Bara 15k Race
More than 300 service members and civilians attached to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and Camp Lemonnier participated in the 28th Annual Grand Bara 15k Race, sponsored by the French Foreign Legion, December 16.
International partners throughout the region participated in the event, including members of the French Foreign Legion, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Djiboutian nationals and runners from around East Africa. "It was an honor and a privilege to be able to participate,” said Kent Long, a Department of Defense civilian contractor for CJTF-HOA. “To be able to meet and compete with such a diverse group of runners was an incredible experience. For the Camp Lemonnier runners, this will be an event that we remember throughout the years."
The run took place in the vast, parched Grand Bara Desert near Dikhil, Djibouti.
"The most exciting part of running this race was the chance to share the experience with the other soldiers from my unit," U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan O’Donnell said. "The training was the hardest part, trying to balance the distance needed for my first marathon in January, with maintaining the needed speed for this race, since it's a shorter distance.”
O’Donnell was the first CJTF-HOA member to finish the race.
“Even though I did not win, being able to be the first finisher from Camp and at least in the top 50 overall was a big mental victory, since I have only just started to get serious about running this past spring.”
U.S. Marine, 1st Lt. Michelle Perez, assigned to CJTF-HOA also participated in the day’s events and was the first female to cross the finish line, which earned her a trophy and a medal.