Runners from various nations and more than 40 U.S. military members and civilians from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, raced through the streets here during the 16th Annual Djibouti International Semi-Marathon March 2.
Almost 800 runners from several African nations, such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, crowded the starting line along with racers from France, Germany, Japan and the U.S.
U.S. Army Major Thomas Hammell, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa plans officer, organized Camp Lemonnier participation in the 21.1 kilometer semi-marathon.
This event provided Americans deployed here an excellent venue to interact with their Djiboutian hosts, said Hammell.
"This is a unique chance for us—the Djiboutians asking us to participate in this sport," Hammell said. "It's a good opportunity,"
The race started at the Gouled National Stadium at mid-afternoon. The runners followed a course that wrapped around the outskirts of the city and finished back at the stadium just before sunset.
Nearly 10,000 Djiboutians, young and old, packed the stadium. Thousands more lined the streets along the racecourse, waving and cheering as runners passed by.
"We had people lined up all along the way," said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Jon Wilson, CJTF-HOA future operations country planner. "Little kids would come out and give you 'high fives.' It was good stuff."
The first American to cross the finish line, U.S. Air Force Captain Peter Euler, CJTF-HOA air operations planner, completed his run in 1 hour, 33 minutes and 20 seconds. He said it was an experience he will never forget.
"I enjoyed the atmosphere of the crowd and getting to run through the streets of Djibouti," Euler said. "It was awesome."