Kabul Half Marathon and 5K
Guest article by SFC VanVoorhis
Being deployed in Afghanistan for a year can have positive or negative effects on physical fitness depending on how down time is spent. While many focus on gains in the gym, they often neglect cardio and distance running in the deployed environment. Treadmills are not nearly as satisfying as running out in the mountains. Distance running at 6500 feet takes time to acclimate and adjust to. Training at altitude is a great way to improve cardio vascular endurance, with the added benefit that when you redeploy back home, running closer to sea level, it feels much easier (unless you live in the mountains).
A solid training routine for distance running at elevation builds gradually. Starting out with shorter distance at slower speed and then adding miles at an increased pace as you acclimate. Everyone acclimates at different rates, but for most, after a few weeks the body adjusts to the point that it is not affected nearly as much by the thinner air. Hydration and recovery time are critical.
Recently a group of advisors in the Kabul area hosted a half marathon, and 5K race. The course of 13.1 miles snaked around a mountain and varied in elevation, with stretches of the race going uphill for three quarters of a mile. Most of the course was on asphalt or gravel. There were 37 Participants in the event; the competitors varied in skill from novice runners to ultra-marathoners. The weather for the event was excellent around 75 degrees, and the normally terrible air quality near Kabul was better than usual. While traversing the route the runners got to see hundreds of rusted out tank hulks left over by the Russians. One of many such places in Afghanistan, the so called “tank graveyard” set the backdrop for the “Haunted Half Marathon.”
The half marathon winner came in at 1 hour 41 minutes. The race was a real morale booster, and a good opportunity to exercise resilience and endurance. It was an eye opener for some runners on just how difficult it is to run at altitude if not properly acclimated.
This event was sponsored by: Spotter up
About the Author
SFC Caleb VanVoorhis is an active duty Infantryman with 13 years of experience. He has spent 48 months deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He also spent time as a Drill Sergeant, a High Risk Personal Security Detail team member, and as an Advisor. Van has an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and is an avid shooter and cross country runner. He enjoys spending his free time hunting, fishing, shooting and building guns or reading military history and small arms development.
Side note from Mike, the Editor of Spotter Up~Truth be told. We are so grateful to our troops and happy that they were stoked to get our morale items. We appreciate SFC VanVoorhis and the work he and the troops are doing over there. Spotter Up really didn’t do much to sponsor this event except send t-shirts, decals and some patches. SFC VanVoorhis and his troops did the hard work. God bless to them and we wish each runner a speedy and safe return home.