As runners tackled the off-road Joint Special Operations 10K race, Nov. 12, two women with Army ties waged a quiet rivalry. Dawn Gabriel, an Army veteran and Lori Sucic, the daughter of an 82nd Airborne Division retiree, each sporting Alabama Roll Tide and Buckeyes gear, did what may seem symbolic of the Army community — set aside differences for the support of the Fort Bragg community.
Sucic said she and her husband, Chris, traveled more than eight hours from Huntsville, Alabama, so he could run in honor of her father on Veterans Day weekend.
The race, said Sucic, is something the Family looks forward to each year.
“It really does my heart good when I was watching all these young people getting ready to run,” she said, moments after the start of the race. “I watch them conduct themselves in the way that they should. I know that it (proceeds) help a lot of programs that support the military and vets,” Sucic said.
The top 10K finishers were Luke Blok, 23, with a time of 40:05 and Claudia McNally, 33, with a time of 43:05. Team SOROC — Anthony Payne, Nicholas Cordier, Erik Pedersen, Gregory Roberts, Victor Sanchez and Garett Peterson — took first place in the team division with a time of 3:29:59.
Though the 5K was not timed, top finishers included Jacob Braman and Andrea Lopez.
For Blok, the SOCA seemed like time well spent.
“I enjoy racing and come out on the weekend to do that,” said Blok. “It’s just fun to do.”
Jim O’Brien, who ran the race with sons, Mathew, 18, and Michael, 16, carried Michael across the finish line.
“(Doing so) is symbolic of what the community is about,” said Jim.
Sponsored by the Special Operations Communicators Association, the race is USA Track and Field- certified course. Each finisher received a coin.
Formed in 2006, the association preserves the common bond that exists between those who serve, or have honorably served, with the Joint Communications Unit.
For more information, visit the SOCA website at www.thesoca.org.