Futenma participates in Ginowan relay race
GINOWAN CITY, Okinawa, Japan -- Sounds of footsteps hitting the ground, labored breathing and shouts of encouragement were heard as relay race participants rushed toward the finish line.
Japanese security guards, Marines and family members with Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing participated in the 36th Annual Ginowan City Relay Race Jan. 26 to promote traffic safety awareness and build relationships between the local community and air station personnel.
The relay race encompassed 14 kilometers, circling the perimeter of MCAS Futenma. Runners promoted traffic safety in the community during the race by obeying all traffic lights and signs.
“It’s great for us to get out and be with the community,” said Sgt. Maj. Brent L. Cook, the sergeant major of MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Installation Pacific. “MCAS Futenma took part in the race with a 14-man team consisting of 11 Marines, two Japanese security guards and one spouse.”
MCAS Futenma supported the race by opening the Gate 4 area to the city for runners to pass through, according to Cook.
Supporters from the local community gathered in the area along with more than 40 teams that competed in the race, including children’s basketball teams, local schools’ parent-teacher associations and many others. After the race, students from the local arts schools played music for the participants.
“The race was not like any of the races I’ve run before,” said Capt. Jose L. Beaton, a race participant and adjutant for Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “There were some participants who you could tell were out there just for fun, and there were others who were definitely here to compete.”
The Futenma team’s strong effort during the race resulted in a second-place finish, breaking its previous best of fourth, and finishing only 19 seconds behind the Ginowan City Fire Department, the relay race winners.
The Futenma team received a plaque for placing second, but it understood the race was not about winning or the award, but being active in the community.
“The best part of being a part of this team and participating in the run was the opportunity to interact with the local community,” said Beaton. “After we were done with the race, there was a good deal of socializing and it made for a very enjoyable experience.”