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Saturday morning at Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton is one of the few opportunities we get each year in the region to race on trails.
But the Spartyka Wounded Warrior 5K is much more than that. The 9 a.m. race is designed to raise awareness and show support for the military along with raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Living in a military community with the Navy and Coast Guard, it's not surprising that this race attracted a large field last year, including many active duty, reserves and veterans along with their families.
There is also a very inspirational ceremony before the race to honor a soldier who has been killed in battle and their family.
This Saturday, the race will honor Marine Cpl. Kemaphoom "Ahn" Chanawongse of Waterford who was killed in combat in Iraq in 2003. His family will be presented with an Honor and Remember Flag.
Chanawongse, just 22, was part of a support battalion trained to transport infantry soldiers in amphibious assault vehicles.
On March 23, Chanawongse and two fellow Marines had been traveling north in one of the many amphibious assault vehicles involved in securing a bridge in Nasiriyah when they came under heavy enemy fire while crossing the bridge.
Chanawongse's vehicle became disabled. He safely evacuated his men from the vehicle and tried to get them to safety as he helped get more ammunition to other Marines. Wounded by shrapnel, he was rushed to a medical evacuation vehicle which was also hit by enemy fire. He was one of six Marines killed in the battle.
Chanawongse, a native of Thailand, came to the United States at age 9 with his mother and older brother. He graduated as an honor student in 1999 from Waterford High School.
Nominate a runner
Know a runner who inspires others or who works to better their community?
The Hartford Marathon Foundation is looking for them as its accepts nominations for its 3rd annual ING Hartford Marathon Elite Inspiration Team. In 2011, the team included the crew of the Groton-based USS Hartford and Nicholas Miller of Waterford, who lost 180 pounds after becoming a runner.
The nominees are selected based on their contributions to their communities. Candidates must be linked to a cause or volunteer organization or have been an encouraging role model for others.
Nominees must be participating in ING Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon or 5K in October. They are treated like elite runners over the weekend and get a complimentary hotel stay, pasta supper and marathon apparel. Nomination forms are on the events page at ww.INGHartfordMarathon.com and will be accepted through June 30. So let's get some more southeastern Connecticut people honored.
On the schedule
The Riverfront Children's Center of Groton will host its 7th annual Riverfront Run, a certified 3.425-mile course and 1.3-mile family fun run on Saturday, May 18 at 9:30 a.m. at Eastern Point Beach. Early registration is $15 per person for either course. Children under 10 are free with a registered adult and there is a family maximum of $45. Online registration is available at www.imAthlete.com. A registration form at also at www.riverfrontchildren.org.
This is the opinion of Day running columnist Joe Wojtas.