Archive for July, 2009

From Baghdad to the City by the Bay via Philly & SLC


I arrived home from Iraq last Thursday but just four days later I was back on a plane and headed west. During my my three and a half days at home I managed to go into work and catch up as well as get in a few bike rides, two rounds of golf – one a charity event for my hometown of Fountain Hill. (I love to golf but I suck at it. Laura doesn’t understand golf so when she asks how bad I am, I tell her that I am the equivalent of a 6-hour marathoner at golf.) Also got a lot of “mulching” done in our once acre yard, visited with freinds at our running club’s clubhouse and entertained company from St. Catherine’s Canada. On Saturday night after golf, mulching and biking and some quality time with Mojave the cat, I went into Philly to watch my wife run some night time laps at Back on My Feet’s Philadelphia 20 in 24, the second running of this set-time event staged at Boathouse Row behind the Philly Art Museum. What a perfect day and night to run in the City of Brotherly Love. My wife loves this 24-hour race and has convinced quite a few of her friends to enter as a relay. And many of last year’s relay runners entered the solo runner, “Lone Ranger” division this year. It’s a natural progression. There were 207 Lone Rangers. I stepped in and did some race announcing for a few hours at night before and during the Midnight Glow in the Dark loop but my mic was taken away from me by none other than that pink tutu-clad ultrarunner and crazy Brit, Keith Straw, fresh off of his finish at the Badwater 135 a few days erlier. It was great seeing folks from many of the local running clubs Laura and I belong to including the Pagoda Pacers of Reading. Ron and Helen Horn of the Pacers did the timing for the event.

Tuesday morning I was on a plane to Salt lake City for the big Outdoor Retailer’s Show. This was pretty fun as we – Runner’s World – were in charge of the Endurance Zone and Endurance Lounge. We had treadmills set up and some amazing duels were going down – Nicole de Boom vs Scott Jurek – in a skirt no less, and two-time Western States winner Hal Koerner up against Leadville champ Anton Krupicka. Anton, Scott and Hal have to be the three smoothest runners I have ever seen – hands down – and a testament to the caliber of runner in the ultra community. There is some ridiculously serious talent out there.

Now I’m in San Francisco staying on the embarcadero with a great view of the bay.  I’m on my way to the race expo where I’ll sell books. If you’re in town, stop by and say hello. It’s a typical San Francisco morning – foggy and overcast. Like Mark Twain said: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Join Me in Richmond for the RW Marathon Challenge

Below is what was sent out to many Runner’s World subscribers. Join us in Richmond this fall!

Runner's World Marathon Challenge



Bart Yasso: The Marathon ChallengeHi,

I’m Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World magazine. And I have one simple question for you:

Are you up to the Challenge?

Sign up for our Marathon Challenge and you’ll get…

  • A 16-week training plan, which you can tailor to fit your needs and individual goals.
  • A daily e-mail that outlines your workout.
  • Weekly e-mails from yours truly, including tips on training, nutrition, motivation, and more.
  • Access to a private section of The Loop, our online community, where RW editors and other experts will share tips and field questions from fellow Marathon Challengers.
  • A Runner’s World book and technical running shirt.
  • An account with our brand-new Personal Trainer, where you can upload your training plan and chart your progress.

…and much, much more.

The editors of Runner’s World are taking the challenge, too—we’re all heading to Virginia for the Richmond Marathon on November 14—and hoping that you’ll train for the race with us, and even come run with us, too. (Marathon Challengers who opt to run Richmond will get a bib number, VIP treatment pre- and post-race, and other goodies.)

Have another race in mind? That’s fine. Our 16-week plan can be tailored for any fall marathon, from Twin Cities to New York to Philly. 
To learn more, and to sign yourself up, visit
We hope to see you online—and on the roads!

Yours truly,

Train With Us! Run With Us!

Note from Al Asad Airbase In Western Iraq


A note from Kevin Martin, one of the soldiers I ran with at Al Asad…


Hope the rest of your tour in Iraq is going well.  We really enjoyed having you all in Al Asad.  It was quite an honor to run that 5K with your group. Here is that picture that we spoke about showing us holding the poster for our event. 

The event is the Major McClung Memorial Half-Marathon and will be held in Iraq this August.  It is named after Major Megan McClung, the first Marine female officer killed in Iraq.  She organized the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon Forward which is a satellite version of the Marine Corps Marathon.  The Half-Marathon will fall 8 weeks from the 2009 Marine Corp Marathon — so in the perfect spot for a marathon training schedule.  Iraq will host another satellite version of the Marine Corps Marathon in 2009.  There are currently over 200 service members signed up to run the Half-Marathon.  Major Megan McClung was an avid runner who finished 6 Ironman Triathlons and numerous marathons including the Marine Corps Marathon which she helped bring to Iraq in October of 2006.  Two months later she was killed in an IED attack.


This is the information about her scholarship fund:

The Major Megan M. McClung Memorial Scholarship

C/O Women Marines Association

P.O. Box 8405

Falls Church, VA 22041-8405

See for details.


Thanks again for hanging out with us,

Kevin Martin


Left to right: Mark Cain, John Gandy, Bart Yasso, Frank Shorter, Timothy McMahon, Dax Bonnett & Kevin Martin



Warrior Tours: Frank Shorter Finally Gets His Bronze medal

585607571_taqzf-m586968768_egugg-mBrown Dust Storms – almost zero visibility.

Sorry – I haven’t updated the blog. When we do have internet connection – it is slow and we are on hold due to these brown sand storms. I know the troops get frustrated when they can’t communicate with their loved ones back home so a few days of no communication and sand storms should be nothing for us.

We’ve had to cancel our last few Warrior Tour races due to  these crazy sand storms. It’s very dangerous to run in these conditions. We can’t even fly out and it’s been three days.

Our last race on Monday was fun but small – 1.6 miles. I won the 50-59 year age division. Frank Shorter, Olympic gold and silver medalist in the marathon, placed third in the 60-69 division which means he finally got that medal that had been eluding him for four decades – the much coveted bronze! way to go Frank. I will post more photos on FB and here shortly.

Days 3 & 4, Warrior Tours: Groundhog Day Takes a Day Off

586174859_bgxo9-l3Day 3, Al Asad  
5k race with approximately 500 runners. Frank and I run with big packs. Perfect weather 90 and a slight breeze at 6 am. It was surreal running in this setting in the middle of vast desert all around. It was run on all paved roads thru the base. After each race we sign posters and do tons of photos.   
Day 4, Camp Taji
We set up a 2-mile race on paved but pretty rough roads through the base. We have 175 runners. I meet lots of soldiers with Pennsylvania connections at Taji. 
The common thing we hear is: “It’s like Groundhog Day every day here.” They see the same people and do the same thing, day in, day out. Race day was  a welcome change for them – a temporary joy from the tedious repetition, something different. And some firsts too: unlike other runs they’ve done on base, this time they had chip timing, a real race announcer and the Frank, Sandy and Bart show but it’s really not about us, it’s about them. The runners got a goodie bag complete with real schwag, a race medal and two tech shirts, division awards, and post race food.
As for us, they are taking great care of us – from food, housing, transportation and general knowledge about what it is they are doing. All the men and women are such professionals at their craft.
After the race, Frank and I get to sit in an Apache helicopter cockpit. After I get out, the maintenance guy says: “Dude, I’ve worked here 2 years and never sat in one!” It’s real VIP treatment.
We get very little sleep. Three hours max. We are always on the go. Meeting and greeting. Flying in Chinooks in darkness over this vast desert landscape. We get to our sleeping quarters late and get up at 4 am to set up the race.  Runners everywhere we go and they love the welcome addition of a real down-home style running race complete with pre-race expo setting. The Iraqi base expo booths are so cool.
I miss my family, wife and kitty. The soldiers are here for 6 to 9 month depoyments. We have it easy. It’s hard to hear them talk about their families. You can in their eyes how much they would love to go home but with honor the do their job and carry out the mission of freedom.    

Day 2, Warrior Tours: Kevlar, Cabbage & Camp Cupcake



I’m out for walk with the rest of our group at 5am. It’s cooled off to 105°F. I was the last one to arrive in the lobby. Two minutes late. Everyone else was right on time. Frank Shorter was walking up to my room to retrieve me but I met him in the stairwell.


We have a one-hour van transport to APOD a military base near Kuwait International airport. When we transport by van we have a security vehicle shadowing us.  It’s official. We’ve received our kevlar helmets and flack jackets.


Now we have about a 3-hour wait for our C130 to transport us to western Iraq. Sandra Magnus, Sandy, had us captivated with her stories on returningto Earth  from space. We totally take gravity for granted. She shares stories of not being able to judge while simply walking around corners. She forgot how to jump even it was only jumping 10 inches off the ground. 


We have to get used to the hurry up and wait game. We always have to be ready when the plane shows up.We just found out our flight will not leave until 3 pm 6 hours later than anticipated. We have no control over anything. We just wait until someone will escort us to our plane.


Lunch at the mess hall is rice and cabbage. All we need to do is show our military orders and they feed us. I’m sitting in the mess hall and a soldier next to me is reading the July issue of Runner’s World.He sees the giant photo of me near the front of the magazine and freaks out. “That’s you!”


It’s amazing to me how many of our soldiers read the magazine and know all about me. He escorts me around APOD introducing me to all runners he knew on base.


It’s time. Our C130 shows up and off we go to Western Iraq. We sit sideways in the back of the plane with the cargo. Flack jacket, helmut, ear plugs and strong stomach required.


We land at a base in western Iraq and the back of the plane opens up. They unload a a few pallets then we jump off the back of the plane.This was so cool. I’m ruined for life. Commercial flying will never be fun again.


We get escorted to some fancy barracks they call Camp Cupcake. Our escort tells me he’s been following my training plan from our July issue. He’ll be running the satellite race they hold here in conjuction with the Marine Corps Marathon.


I met a Captain at the barracks. He says to me: “Sir, I meet you at the Air Force Marathon last year.” It was his first marathon and he’s hooked on running.


We head over to the rec center to open registration for tomorrow’s 5K race. Sandy, Frank and I sign posters for all the runners as they register for the race.


It’s a very humbling experience because they all thank us for being here in Iraq. We thank them for all they are doing. They are a bunch of really strong, hard-working Americans who are protecting the liberties and freedoms that we enjoy at home every day.


Frank and I look at each other and say the same thing: We are getting more out of this then they are.

Day 1, Warrior Tours: Allentown to Washington DC to Kuwait City

3704671551_0c9f5c61af_mOur group of 8 meets up at the Dulles airport in Washington DC. Twelve hours later we are half a world away in Kuwait City – but still not near our final destination. 

The Warriors Tour Team of Eight:

Rob Powers, race announcer extraordinaire and founder of the Warrior Tours. 

Frank Shorter ,the man who invented the running boom, the marathoner who made running marathons cool.

Sandy Magnus, a REAL astronaut. She spent 4 months at the international space station.

Nicole Cloutier, public relations with NASA.

Anne Bonney, a Senior Manager of Sports Marketing at Under Armour, one of our sponsors

Rick Stern and his son Josh, our race timers,

and me, Bart Yasso.



We arrived in Kuwait city at 5 pm. It’s 118 degrees. First stop: The one-stop Visa shop to purchase your Visa for $20.00 US or 3 Kuwait currency – 3 Dinar (KWD). The shop is located next to a Mc Donald’s, and it’s like an old-fashioned bakery. You have to get a number then wait to be called up to the window. It’s a very crazy chaotic scene to get $20.00.



Each security checkpoint is very different. Some are very strict, passport, Visa and what are you doing here questions; other checkpoints they just waved us thru.


It was a 45-minute caravan to the Arifjan base. Arifjan is used to bring newbies in before they are sent to Iraq or the last stop before people head stateside. Our housing was in three-story cinder block building .The base lobby had a tv on showing cnn international coverage of the Michael Jackson Memorial service. Some people watched it intently. Others could care less.  he first 2 people who meet Sandy both said the same thing, wow a REAL astronaut. I wonder what’s a fake astronaut? 


Got to bed at 11:30 pm and up at 3:30 am. I can’t sleep much because my room is next to the latrine. I hear the doors open and close all night long. We need to be in the lobby at 5:30 am for transport to an unknown location. I like the idea of having no idea where we’re going. You feel very safe. The one thing we know were in good hands.

Countdown to Iraq

I’ve been packing for Iraq the last few days. Kitty keeps sitting on my orders and of course sleeping in my suitcase hoping he gets  to be a hideaway to the Middle East. Hard to believe I will be in Kuwait City in less than two days.


While I am in Iraq as part of the Warriors Tour, I will try to post to my blog daily and on the Runner’s World site.

Here is a link to a local tv segment filmed on Friday

Warriors Tour Press Release





Runner’s World’s Bart Yasso Supports Troops in Baghdad

by Running in The Warrior Tours


7 Races, over 7 Days, at 7 Bases

New York, NY — June 30, 2009- Bart Yasso, Runner’s World Chief Running Officer, heads to the Middle East on July 6th as part of The Warrior Tours: “America’s Races Salutes the Troops” (   Over the course of seven days, “The America’s Races Salutes the Troops” will visit seven U.S. military bases in the Middle East supporting the troops in the semi-annual Armed Forces Physical Fitness Test. 

“When I got the go ahead for this project, Bart was the first person I called to come along,” said Rob Powers, America’s Voice of Running and founder of The Warrior Tours. “Bart is one of the best known names in running, has military ties, and is an amazing motivator. Who better to take along to support our troops?”

 “My dad served in the Navy during World War II on the USS Oklahoma City, and to have the opportunity to tie my love for running with my family’s history, and support our troops is very special,” said Yasso.

At each base, “The America’s Races Salutes the Troops” will produce world-class running events including evening entertainment, professional digital tag timing, announcing, and race T-shirts and awards donated by more than thirty of the top running events around the United States.  Competitors will be given a race T-shirt (from the race closest to their hometown), a finish medal, and have their results posted the day of the race on The Warrior Tours web site (

Along with Powers and Yasso, other special guests on the tour include NASA astronaut Sandar Magnus, Olympic gold medalist and Runner’s World contributor Frank Shorter, UnderArmour’s ( Senior Manager of RUN Anne Bonney, and 2009 Armed Forces Entertainers of the year Catchpenny.

Yasso, author of the best-selling book, “My Life on the Run,” is one of the few people to have completed races on all seven continents from the Antarctica marathon to the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon. The Warrior Tours will be the first time he will race in a live combat zone.

Yasso may be best known for the marathon-training workout he invented, Yasso 800s, used by thousands of runners across the globe.  He joined Runner’s World in 1987 to develop the Runner’s World Race Sponsorship Program, creating a vehicle for Runner’s World to work with over 7,000 races representing 4 million runners every year. In 2007, he was inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions.

During the tour images, videos, and updates will be posted on the WarriorTours web site and through its Facebook page ( and Twitter account (  Yasso will also be contributing with updates ( and through his Twitter account–


About The Warrior Tours

The Warrior Tours, a pending 501(C)(3) nonprofit, connects the men and women of the US Armed Forces with the American people through physical fitness by teaming up stateside events with The Warrior Tours events at US military bases worldwide.  While supporting the troops in their fitness programs The Warrior Tours connects US service men and women with their friends and families through video, text, and images that are posted on The Warrior Tours website and broadcast at domestic sporting events.  More information at

About Runner’s World:

Recognized as the worldwide authority on running information, the mission of Rodale’sRunner’s World is to inform, advise, and motivate runners of all ages and abilities. Runner’s World aims to help runners achieve their personal health, fitness, and performance goals, and to inspire them with vivid, memorable storytelling. Currently Runner’s World publishes 14 international editions. Runner’s World’s award-winning companion Web site,, is the largest running community on the Internet, featuring interactive, searchable, and targeted content for runners of all ages and abilities.