Turkmen Elite Runners Sweep Gold in U.S. Embassy First Wave Run

By Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Media Team 
U.S. Newswire Release March 17, 2013

More than 150 runners including Ambassador Robert Patterson participated in satellite event on Sunday, March 17
ASHGABAT, TurkmenistanMarch 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With temperatures in the 70s, over 150 participants, including Ambassador Robert Patterson , toed the starting line of the U.S. Embassy Ashgabat Turkmenistan Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon First Wave run on Sunday, March 17, 2013.
Presented by U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters Community Services and American300, the 8K race and kid's fun run was the first for this capital city, which is nestled up against the Kopetdag mountain range.
"Amateur runs and marathons have become a fixture in the U.S. sports landscape, and we were enthused about sharing that aspect of American culture with our friends in Turkmenistan," said Ambassador Patterson, a native of Greensburg, PA and Ambassador to Turkmenistan since May 2011. "This 8K is a great example of the potential sports has to bring people together."
Rob Powers , the official announcer of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, led the event with Gunnery SergeantBruce Villasenor , Detachment Commander, Marine Security Detachment U.S. Embassy Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
"We knew we'd get a great turn out from our resident Embassy staff members and their families," Gunnery Sergeant Villasenor said. "When I saw one of Turkmenistan's National Team Track and Field Master coaches show up, I knew the day was going to be amazing."
Pennsylvanian Olympic record holder and gold medalist Dan Beery , a resident of Valley Forge, joined Powers on the ONETEAM American300 Envoy trip. Beery and Powers came here to promote friendship and cooperation through a joint effort of the U.S. Embassy Turkmenistan and non-government agency (NGO) called American300, a nonprofit that Powers started five years ago.  
"Public diplomacy through sport was popular back in the 70's with our table tennis team, and we've been finding out that it's every bit as popular today," said Powers, who recruits athletes and others to support his foundation's mission  "It's all about putting great people together and allowing friendships to form."   
For the runners here today, friendship and mutual understanding was the message.  Of the more than 150 participants, more than 70 were locals and another dozen were non-American foreign guests.
"Our Embassy team always has translators with us so we can connect with our hosts," said Beery. "Today, I think we could have used around six more specialists. There were a lot of people from a lot of different countries on the start line."
With a live band, world-class dj and stadium-style sound system, the event started at 11 a.m. The runners provided a recorded count down for the 30,000 runners who will run in Pittsburgh. Powers will present the recording on race day as part of his race announcer duties.
Turkmenistan is hosting the 2017 Asia Indoor Games, which is under the direction of the International Olympic Committees family of sports.  The envoy guests saw first hand the new Ashgabat Olympic Sports Complex. 
For more information about American300, visit American300.org.
PHOTO:  American Leonard Kovensky, a U.S. Embassy Ashgabat, Turkmenistan affiliate, doused some Turkmenistan pure mountain water over his head during the first ever U.S. Embassy Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon First Wave Race.

Women's Overall Winner:  Keyik Weliyewa,  Turkmenistan , 38:54 
Men's Overall Winner: Emin Esenow, Turkmenistan,   30:32

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