Racing in the desert Soldier to run this weekend’s HUMC 5K – while in Iraq

A National Guardsman who works at the Hoboken University Medical Center will be participating in the local 5K run this weekend from Iraq, while his coworkers run along the Hudson River.

Steve Gaunt is the director of security at HUMC and was called back to active duty in the 348th Military Police Detachment two months ago.

The annual 5K race is held this weekend, Saturday, Oct. 11 at 9 a.m. at Pier A Park, and it benefits the hospital, in particular the construction of the Emergency Room due for completion next June.

Gaunt was preparing to run in the 5K fundraiser before he left, and he wasn’t about to let 6,000 miles stand in his way.
So Gaunt asked HUMC if he could enlist his unit in the race and run simultaneously in Iraq. The hospital agreed, although the timing couldn’t be exactly simultaneous.

Gaunt will be running the race with 43 other guardsmen and women at 2 a.m. EST, or 9 a.m. Iraq-time on Oct. 11.

The Iraq race will be spread over seven different military bases, with 20 competitors entered to run at Gaunt’s base in central Iraq.

Helping the hospital
Joe Burt, VP for development at HUMC, is organizing the race. He said last week that the hospital was so taken by Gaunt’s commitment that they decided to donate half of the registration fees to purchase phone cards for the men and women in Gaunt’s unit.

“The least thing they should be worried about is the hospital,” Burt said of the troops.

Burt said HUMC sent over t-shirts from HUMC for the participants, the same that will be distributed in Hoboken.

The 5K is a competitive race, sanctioned by USATF (the United States Association of Track and Field), and prizes will be awarded to the top three men and women.

Gaunt will be calling in at the start of his race in Iraq – provided there is no security blackout in Iraq – and will e-mail pictures from the finish to be displayed at the official race the next morning.

Last month, New Jersey deployed 2,850 of their 6,000 National Guardsmen and women, the largest deployment since World War II.


“The least thing they should be worried about is the hospital.”

– Joe Burt

Back home
Gaunt’s wife, Mia Gaunt, and their son will be the honorary race starters in Hoboken, where runners will head along Hudson Street all the way from First Street to 14th Street, and back again.

The hospital has also invited Maj. Gen. Glen Rieth, commander of the New Jersey National Guard, to start the race as well.

Burt said last year the hospital had 400 people compete in the race, and this year they have more than 400 already pre-registered for this year.

In addition to the 5K, a two-mile river walk will be held at 9:20 a.m. A kids’ dash, for 2- to 12-year olds, will begin at 10 a.m.

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