Organization helps troops salute their families and friends.
Written by: Sean McKeon
What started as a small run at Sather Air Base in Baghdad this spring has turned into a world record-setting series of runs, all to support the active military and their families. Conceived by well-known road race announcer, and former US Army officer, Rob Powers, The Warrior Tours has offered overseas military the opportunity to take part in running events coinciding with some of the largest races in the United States.
Powers, a former recipient of the Air Force’s prestigious American Spirit Award, came up with the idea of The Warrior Tours after a former mentor, US Army Master Sergeant John Stone, was killed in action in 2006. Powers decided to start his foundation as a way to support the morale and welfare of active military and Department of Defense employees overseas. Since April, Powers’ organization has put on 11 events on overseas military bases, including the most recent, a world record-setting “Yellow Ribbon Run” at US Army Garrison Grafenwoehr in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
The world record idea came by chance, as Powers was heading to Germany for another Warrior Tours event. When word got out of the group heading to the region, Troy Mason, MWR Manager of Sponsorship and Marketing at the base in Grafenwoehr, asked Powers if he would be interested in coming to do an event at his base. Powers explained, “When I saw the potential in the event I decided to go to the well and see if we could get some support from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series. I thought, ‘what better way to coincide the largest Yellow Ribbon Run in history with the largest running event series in the world?’”
According to Powers, the response he received from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Series was astounding. “They gave us a total of 600 shirts, 5,000 medals and 5,000 yellow ribbons to use at the event,” he said. On the day of the event Powers and Mason found themselves with more than 2,500 athletes, 10 times more than in the first events in April, lined up to set a new world record for a Yellow Ribbon Run on an overseas military base. Although runs like this had been done before, none of them even came close to matching its scale. “The largest run I knew of before this was well under 2,000,” said Powers. “We could not have done it without the amazing support of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series and their generosity, especially with a last-minute event like this.”
The most important takeaway from the events Powers is putting on is that they are just as much about the soldiers’ families as they are a morale boost for the soldiers themselves. “We call it running ‘SOFT’ly, which stands for Saluting Our Families Today,” said Powers. The soldiers are wearing the yellow ribbons to support the people who support them back home.” Through videos created by The Warrior Tours, footage of the overseas events made available to be shown to family, friends and participants of events back home.
The Warrior Tours has no plans on slowing down, either. There are already eight events planned for 2010, including another potential, to-be-announced, record breaker in January. Powers also wants to expand the organization to support other civil servants. “We plan to get involved in organizations supporting police, firefighters and other people who wake up each morning and puts others in front of themselves,” he said. “These people, in my mind, are all warriors.”
For more information on the foundation which as received overwhelming support from running icons; Frank Shorter, Rod Dixon, Bart Yasso, John Bingham and Bill Rodgers, to name a few, please visit: www.thewarriortours.com.
World Record Ribbon Run Slideshow: