First All-American Marathon a runaway hit
Posted May 4, 2014
Fayetteville, N.C. — What's a bang from a gun when there’s the boom from an U.S. Army howitzer?
The large piece of military artillery kicked off the inaugural All-American Marathon, Mike to Mike Half Marathon and 5K Sunday morning.
With about 3,000 runners and plenty more cheering them on, the event didn’t seem like Fayetteville’s first marathon.
“As big as our community is, as big as it military wise, it’s a longtime coming,” said runner Georgia Popp. “The support is awesome. The support on the route was awesome.”
The race started in downtown Fayetteville and finished on Fort Bragg’s main post parade field.
“It's about the 3,721 stories out there of all the runners who are doing it for so many reasons but all came together,” said Brig. Gen. Giles Hill, 82nd Airborne Division Deputy Commanding General for Interoperability.
Popp, a retired solider, ran for more than herself.
“I have two children serving in the military now, both Army,” she said. “So it's an awesome honor and an awesome privilege to be able to run for Fort Bragg.”
Her greatest thrill, however, may have been meeting Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi.
“It was awesome and he signed my shirt,” she said.
Keflezighi, the first American to win the Boston race in over 30 years, was in Fayetteville to support the event and the military.
“It's not often you have the troops giving the medal for you, so it's a great honor and I feel privileged and honored to be here,” he said.
Keflezighi watched as Masashi Sirotake was the first to finish the marathon.
“It’s very happy to shake hand with him,” said Sirotake.
A native of Japan, Sirotake was running his first American race.
“So, I’m very happy to win,” he said.