(PHILADELPHIA) October-November 2009 — For the first time, a Philadelphia Marathon-affiliated race will take place outside of the city, as U.S. troops will participate in a remote race in Germany in a special goodwill initiative.
Nationally-known race announcer Rob Powers is leading a campaign to visit military bases in war-torn Iraq, Middle East and elsewhere to produce a series of competitive remote foot races in conjunction with other organized U.S. races, including the Philadelphia Marathon.
Powers, official race announcer for the Philadelphia Marathon, is the founder of The Warrior Tours: America’s Races Salute the Troops in an effort to deliver some Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection thousands of miles away from home.
The U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels military base in the Bavarian region of Germany will be an official host site for the “Philadelphia Marathon First Wave Warrior Race” on November 16 and 17, the week of the Philadelphia Marathon. The race is part of The Warrior Tours project. The competition will be produced by USAG Hohenfels Morale Welfare and Recreation Sports Department in conjunction with the Philadelphia Marathon and The Warrior Tours organization.
“The City of Philadelphia is honored to participate in The Warrior Tours and the Philadelphia Marathon First Wave Race in Germany,” said Melanie Johnson, City Representative and Philadelphia Marathon Executive Director. “This is a positive way for Philadelphia to express our gratitude by supporting our troops who cannot be part of the Philadelphia Marathon.”
Marathon organizers announced they will donate 250 official race-day marathon shirts as well as medals and racing bibs for the future competition abroad. The race also will be videotaped and plans are underway to show the footage of The Philadelphia Marathon First Wave Warrior Race here during Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, November 20-22.
The races abroad follow most of the requirements and employ a format similar to any sanctioned marathon. The Philadelphia Timing Company also signed on as an official timing service. The Philadelphia Marathon was the first race organization that joined The Warrior Tours.
The tour features an itinerary of remote races at military installations, where the deployed U.S. soldiers are stationed. The initial leg of the tour kicked off July 6, with 800 troops participating in four races connected to various U.S. running organizations. U.S. Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter (1972 Olympics, Munich) and NASA astronaut, Sandra H. Magnus, a participant in the Atlantis (2002) and Expedition 18 (2009) space missions, joined Powers and Bart Yasso, of Runner’s World magazine, on the tour as part of an entourage of supporters. Powers said Shorter and Magnus, an avid runner, were gracious and appeared overwhelmed by the warm reception from the soldiers.
As a security precaution, all of the races took place at undisclosed military bases in the Middle East, and the official running times and participants will be kept confidential. The way it works is that the remote races are run in advance of the actual individual marathon competitions by race partners in the U.S.
The original plan was to conduct an ambitious schedule of seven races in seven days at seven separate locations in the Middle East; however a major sandstorm put a halt to that mission. Nevertheless, the experience was highly successful, as more than 40 sanctioned road races, including the Philadelphia Marathon, signed up to lend support to The Warrior Tours and dozens of enthusiastic runners.
Powers promised to share his experience as a “Marathon host announcer” when he returns here to assume his duties as the race announcer of the Philadelphia Marathon in November.
“This summer, Philadelphia supported our ‘America’s Race Salute the Troops Races’ in Iraq ,” said Powers. We received such a positive response from soldiers participating in these races that Philadelphia Marathon officials agreed to support the November event in Germany.”
The Warrior Tours has significant meaning for Powers, a veteran who served in the U.S. Army and Air Force during the 1980s. He came up with the concept while researching the history of the U.S. Armed Force and became fascinated by the popular perception that U.S. soldiers were warriors. This resulted in the racing tour’s name.
Powers also was inspired by the outpouring of patriotism and appreciation for our country’s fallen heroes following September 11th . Powers connected the idea to his passion for marathoning and began partnering up with various marathon organizations nationwide. Organizers’ goals are to provide an opportunity to recognize the commitment and contributions of our U.S. military, while promoting running and fitness.
“My motivation behind The Warrior Tours is to increase morale and inspire soldiers,” said Powers. “I want to encourage the soldiers to become more energetic and physically fit.”
For more information on The Warrior Tours, visit: www.thewarriortours.com.