MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents competed in the Gokkan 2.5 Kilometer Fun Run, which took place on the seawall behind IronWorks Gym here, Feb. 19, 2013.
While the approximate one and a half mile run was free for all base personnel, and focused mainly on bringing residents together for some enjoyable mid-day exercise, a winner still needed to emerge. Michael Gutschmidt was the victor of this year’s Gokkan Fun Run, with a time of 8:39.
Gutschmidt said it felt good to win, but the competition from the other athletes pushed him to try harder than he expected.
Marine Corps Community Services SemperFit Division hosts multiple runs throughout the year, ranging from shorter runs such as this, up to marathons in Japan.
“I think events like this are great, not just for me, but for everyone,” said Gutschmidt. “Maybe you wouldn’t have the motivation to go out and run a marathon in Hagi, Japan, but if it’s here, then you have more of a reason to do it. It’s much more accessible.”
With the running occurring during routine lunch hours, one shop of Marines took it as the perfect opportunity to foster unit cohesion.
“This shows them the bigger picture,” said Patrick Burgess, Gokkan participant. “Going out and doing things like this builds up the legacy the Marine Corps has; large to small unit leadership going out, training with their Marines and building amaraderie. It’s not something so strenuous that you’re killing them, but at the same time, they’re building their self confidence in what they can do, and through that, they can start shaping their leadership skills. The old dogs aren’t going to be around forever, and (these Marines) are the future of the Marine Corps.”
Burgess also said it is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to shape and mold the Marines of the future.
The run, which takes place here annually and always during February, ensuring the coldest temperature, gets the name Gokkan from the word gokukan, which literally translates to “extreme cold.”