Multinational Forces Compete in Grand Bara 15k

GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - Three French Mirage 2000 fighter jets start the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race with a flyover in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. More than 250 members from the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier competed in the race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - Three French Mirage 2000 fighter jets start the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race with a flyover in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. More than 250 members from the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier competed in the race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - Competitors take off running at the start of the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. More than 1,300 runners from different countries participated in the desert race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - Competitors take off running at the start of the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. More than 1,300 runners from different countries participated in the desert race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - A row of rocks guides runners at the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. The rocks laid out a path through the desert for runners to follow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - A row of rocks guides runners at the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. The rocks laid out a path through the desert for runners to follow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - A runner makes her way across the Grand Bara Desert during the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race December 8. French, Djiboutian, U.S. and German service members and civilians competed in the race, which is in the 29th year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - A runner makes her way across the Grand Bara Desert during the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race December 8. French, Djiboutian, U.S. and German service members and civilians competed in the race, which is in the 29th year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - A runner sprints for the finish line during the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. More than 250 members from Camp Lemonnier participated in the race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - A runner sprints for the finish line during the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. More than 250 members from Camp Lemonnier participated in the race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - U.S. Air Force Captain Katrine Helleberg, a race competitor, runs toward the finish line of the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. Helleberg took third place in the women's category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - U.S. Air Force Captain Katrine Helleberg, a race competitor, runs toward the finish line of the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. Helleberg took third place in the women's category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - French Marine Colonel Oliver Ducret, 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion commander, presents a medal to U.S. Army Captain Ben Payne after the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. Captain Payne took 8th place in the men's category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - French Marine Colonel Oliver Ducret, 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion commander, presents a medal to U.S. Army Captain Ben Payne after the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. Captain Payne took 8th place in the men's category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)
GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - French Marine Brigadier General William Kurtz, commander of French Forces in Djibouti, presents a medal to U.S. Marine Captain Melissa Mueller, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, after the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. Mueller took first place in the women's category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen) CJTF-HOA Photo GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 8, 2011)) - French Marine Brigadier General William Kurtz, commander of French Forces in Djibouti, presents a medal to U.S. Marine Captain Melissa Mueller, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, after the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8. Mueller took first place in the women's category. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jonathan Steffen)

GRAND BARA DESERT, Djibouti (Dec. 09, 2011) - The French general stood pridefully amongst the hundreds of troops standing before him just as the sun started to peek over the horizon. His voice resonated with pride and determination as he motivated the troops before the battle they were about to enter. Each and every person - no matter their rank, nationality or service - knew what had to be done. As three fighter jets providing close air support flew overhead, the men and women broke ranks and surged forward.

Their goal was not a military victory, but a finish line.

More than 1,300 French, Djiboutian, U.S. and German service members and civilians competed in the 29th Annual Grand Bara 15k race hosted by the 5th Combined Overseas Marine Battalion in the Grand Bara Desert, Djibouti, December 8.

At dawn, French Marine Brigadier General William Kurtz, French Forces in Djibouti commander, gave the race participants a brief history of the race before encouraging them to give his or her best.

Moments later, three French Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft screamed above the starting line, officially kicking off the race.

"We don't use a revolver (to start the race)," said French Marine Colonel Oliver Ducret, 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion commander. "We use airplanes—it's more fun."

Many of the runners shared a similar enthusiasm about starting the race with a flyby.

"It was an awesome start," said U.S. Marine Captain Melissa Mueller, a race participant and Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa deputy comptroller. "The enthusiasm of the start with the jets—the adrenaline was there, so you kind of had to remind yourself not to go so fast so you have a little bit to carry you through the nine miles."

According to Ducret, one has to prepare for the 9.3-mile race through the desert to complete it.

"I think people can run 8 or 9 kilometers without any problems, but when you pass 10 kilometers, it becomes more difficult," he said. "You have to be trained for the 15 kilometer."

Despite being difficult, running the race through the barren expanse can bring people together.

"Running is kind of a common language," said Mueller, who won first place in the women's category with a time of 66 minutes. "We share the same type of struggles and challenges through a run."

Ducret echoed her sentiment saying, "It is a pleasure to run together."

"Thank you … for coming to do the race with us," he added.

Tags

Djibouti

We suggest

U.S. Marines strengthen Djiboutian Army by leading joint bilateral academy course in Africa

The U.S. Marine Corps is arguably one of the most revered institutions within the U.S. Department of Defense. So, when Combined Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) leadership recently welcomed members of the Djibouti Armed Forces (FAD) into the U.S. Marine Corps Corporals Course, it was a distinct honor.

U.S., Japanese, French, Italian militaries partner for first multilateral NEO exercise in Africa

Initiated by the Japanese military, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) supported a joint-nation noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) exercise and training here, Sept. 29.