- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

Gabrielle Winton drove 10 hours to the District from Fort Stewart, Ga., to run 10 miles to support her soldier husband, who’s in Iraq.

The bubbly thirtysomething mother of three surprised herself by accomplishing her task and by going the extra mile, literally.

“My husband has said on more than one occasion that he’s proud of me,” Mrs. Winton said of her husband, Maj. Doug Winton, 36, who was deployed in January. “It’s a sign for him that everything is going well — we’re keeping the home fires burning.”

Mrs. Winton and more than 40 other women with the 3rd Infantry Division Army spouses, ran more than 11 miles to honor their husbands in the 21st annual “Army Ten-Miler” race yesterday.

The wives, ranging in age from their early 20s to mid-40s, ran for their husbands who were deployed to Iraq from the Georgia-based division within the past year and could not participate in the race.

Among the wives were five women whose husbands were killed in the war.

Some wives flew to the District, while others came here with a car caravan. But the wives said the 600-mile journey from Georgia to run the 11-mile race for their husbands serving their country thousands of miles away was well worth the effort.

“It recognizes that there still are soldiers deployed,” said team leader Jacqui Coffman, 37, whose husband, Maj. Ross Coffman, was deployed in January. “It enables us to honor the soldiers that are still there and to run for the soldiers who won’t be coming back.”

The wives, along with the other runners, ended up running an extra mile, after race organizers rerouted the course when a suspicious package was found under the 14th Street Bridge. The package was later deemed harmless.

But the wives, who trained for three months and donned shirts featuring their mascot, “Rocky” the dog, didn’t mind.

They said the rerouted course represented many of their lives as military wives — lives that are full of constant readjusting.

“A lot of it is getting through stress on a day-to-day basis,” said Mrs. Coffman, who fought in Desert Storm. “But just as this group supported each other to get through this race, the Army spouses support each other with hardships on a day-to-day basis.”

Organizers said an estimated 15,000 of the 20,000 registered runners finished the race.

Mrs. Coffman and Mrs. Winton have run the race before, but for many of the wives, this was a first that also was a personal triumph.

And the unity — a camaraderie that brings together civilians and military personnel from around the world — is one of the things the wives enjoy most about this race.

“It’s a group of people who are proud to serve their nation, and the camaraderie — you don’t find that on the outside,” Mrs. Coffman said.

For the wives, perhaps yesterday’s run gave credence to the team’s motto by Albert Einstein: “The world is a dangerous place to live in, not because people are evil, but because of the people who do nothing about it.”

Mrs. Winton and Mrs. Coffman paused to reflect, then spoke nearly in unison, finishing each other’s sentence.

“It symbolizes our husbands and what they’re willing to do … they’re willing to step up,” Mrs. Winston said.

“The spouses are just as willing to endure the hardships for the cause,” Mrs. Coffman added.



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