(by Utilitiesman Constructionman Marlene Houngbedji)

(photos by Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Karen Butler)

 Sunny weather, healthy competitive spirit and an urge to showcase Navy pride brought a group of eleven NMCB 11 runners to this Saturday’s Jingle Bell 5K and I-Mile Fun Run in Long Beach, MS.  Sponsored by the Gulf Coast Running Club (GCRC) as a fundraiser to benefit the Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force, the event was a gathering of runners and walkers of all ages and backgrounds.  Attended by participants between the ages of 3 and 70 years old, this annual race is a display of endurance abilities from one end of the spectrum to the other.  It was also the stage of a Christmas costume contest with several participants winning prizes for best holiday-inspired running outfits.

 “I’m running a half marathon in January, so that’s good practice,” said Builder Constructionman Thomas Massey before the race began.  A dedicated athlete, Massey ran several 5K races during this homeport and plans on running a couple more before deployment.  “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to,” conceded Equipment Operator Constructionman Jeff Mitchell after the race.  Mitchell checked in to NMCB 11 only a month earlier and can complete a mile and a half anywhere between 8 minutes, 10 seconds and 8:30.  He blames his 3rd place-rated performance on making the mistake of running the race as a 1.5 mile and not a 5K run; his failure to pace himself at the beginning forced him to slow down in the second half of the race.

 Having finished the race first, Chaplain Brian Myers back tracked to encourage his fellow NMCB 11 teammates, roaming the route back and forth until the last of the battalion’s runners reached the finish line.  “We had 220 runners this year, less than the 300 we had in 2009,” said Gulf Coast Running Club Race Director Leonard Vergunst, winner of the event’s Grandmasters Male title (for runners over 50).  Vergunst praised Chaplain Myers’ performance, describing how he gradually pulled away from everyone on the way back to the finish line and easily won the race.

 NMCB 11 finished strong overall, taking home five trophies:

Chaplain, LTJG Brian Myers – 1st Place, Overall Winner

Ensign Steven Ferrara – 1st Place in the 25-29 age group (males)

Builder 3rd Class Amanda Glover – 1st Place in the 19-24 age group (females)

Utilitiesman Constructionman Marlene Houngbedji – 2nd Place in the 35-39 age group (females)

Construction Mechanic Constructionman Jeff Mitchell – 3rd Place in the 19-24 age group (males)

Congratulations to all of our trophy winners.  Massey was another standout, finishing 14th overall.  All of our participants deserve a congratulations and a thank you for coming out on a saturday and contributing to the prevention of substance abuse.

Race Results courtesy of  Gulf Coast Running Club

Race Photos courtesy of Gulf Coast Running Club

click any image to enlarge

Pictured from left: BU3(SCW) Robert J. Woodley, MC1(AW) Jonathan C. Carmichael, CMCN Jeff Mitchell, UTCN Marlene M. Houngbedji, ET1(SW) Richard L. O'Bryant, BU3(SCW) Amanda L. Glover, BU2(SCW) Richard L. Brown, BUCN(SCW) Thomas L. Massey, Ensign Steven Ferrara

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