MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Marine Corps Community Services Health Promotions Division helped The American Cancer Society mark the 35th annual Great American Smokeout Nov. 18 by hosting 5K and 10K runs behind the IronWorks Gym here.
Forty participants registered for the race, 20 in the 5K and 20 in the 10K. Awards were presented to the first, second and third place finishers to both male and female divisions in the 5K and 10K races.
First, second and third place winners for the 10K men’s division were Adrian Figueroa with a time of 42:06, Jason Hulette with 43:17 and Abner Segovia with 45:06.
“I came out here to support the community. There are so many great programs and incentives available,” said Figueroa. “Why not come out here and stay in shape?”
The winners for the 10K female division were Kimberly Yore with a time of 45:16, Nobumi Taylor with 46:29 and Sonia Walterswith 48:43.
Edmond Chapa with a time of 17:50, Eli Yang with 21:25 and Jose Graciano with 22:32 were the first, second and third place winners for the 5K men’s division.
The 5K female winners were Toyota Hiroe with a time of 28:39, Cavel Wallen with 29:17 and Mandy Apple with 30:13.
Those who committed to be smoke-free for the day were given a 20-percent discount off one item at the Marine Corps Exchange.
“We came out to support the people who want help with a lethal habit,” said Cpl. Paul Eginton, 5K participant. “Even though this was a race with a first, second and third place winner, we are all winners today.”
The Great American Smokeout is held annually on the third Thursday of November and started in November 1977.
The event helps create awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco and encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.
Gunnery Sgt. Louis Starnes, 5K participant, brought his Marines out to participate in the race for support and physical training.
“This was a good opportunity to get everyone together and change up the normal morning PT by supporting a good cause,” said Starnes. “It’s a great day, so it was an easy decision to come out here and help create awareness.”
There are an estimated 433,000 deaths each year in the U.S. that can be attributed to tobacco use.
“Thirty-seven percent of Marines report smoking compared to the 29 percent of civilians that report smoking,” said Alma Dickinson, coordinator for the event and Health Promotions director.
Upon joining the Marine Corps, 30 percent of new Marines pick up the habit.
“That is nearly one third,” said Dickinson. “Tobacco has so many harmful effects on the body and it affects mission readiness.”
There are many reasons why people begin smoking. One of the most common reasons is peer pressure.
“I started smoking when I was 16 because all the women I worked with were older and they smoked,” said Staff Sgt. Tressia K. Rakestraw, Great American Smokeout 10K participant.
“It was peer pressure and the smokers were allowed longer breaks.”
Rakestraw, now married and a mother of four, was smoking up until Christmas 2009.
“I was a heavy smoker and my husband smoked because I smoked,” said Rakestraw. “He would always take two or three cigarettes from my pack because they were there.”
As Rakestraw’s oldest son Michael Yankosky grew older, he became more aware of his mother’s situation through the drug awareness programs taught in his school.
“I didn’t want my mom to get sick so I told her to stop smoking,” said Yankosky.
Rakestraw told her son she would try to quit but continued smoking.
“My mom didn’t quit right away, so I asked and asked her to until she stopped, and I even threw away her cigarettes once,” Yankosky said.
Through her son’s efforts, Rakestraw was able to quit smoking Dec. 25, 2009.
“I stopped smoking so we could play with our kids and our grand kids, but I couldn’t have done it without my son,” Rakestraw said.
Since quitting, Rakestraw reports improved health and a better lifestyle.
“I feel better, look better, smell better and it feels great,” said Rakestraw. “I wouldn’t be able to participate in events like this if I hadn’t quit.”
Semper Fit offers a four-week Tobacco Cessation Course that introduces a variety of methods used to attain and maintain a tobacco free lifestyle.