Frostbite: More than a Run
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The sun warmed the brisk winter air as runners and their families piled through the gate here Jan. 13, 2013, for the Yokota Strider's 32nd Annual Frostbite Run.
Though more than 11,000 runners came to Yokota to participate in the 5K, 10K and half-marathon races, the true spirit of the event cut through the freezing temperatures.
"Frostbite's goal is to foster friendship through running," said Mark Thompson, Yokota Strider's president. "Today's race is a representation of reciprocity. Every year, Yokota Strider's are invited to races throughout Japan, and Frostbite allows us the opportunity to open Yokota to our friends."
"It warms my heart to see so many braving the cold to participate in this tradition," said Col. Ed Brown, 374th Mission Support Group commander. "It is truly a symbol of the great friendship between the Japanese and American people."
Friendship not only brings runners to this event but volunteers as well. More than 470 people from various base private organizations and 80 Japan Air Self-Defense Force members worked as event staff for the race.
"I enjoy getting out into the community and lending a helping hand," said Bethany Mundle, a volunteer at the Frostbite. "This experience was even more rewarding because I was working alongside our Japanese neighbors."
Frostbite offers an opportunity to share a common love of running and volunteering between the on-base and off-base communities, while building mutual understanding.
"The community outside the base does not always understand what happens on base," said Yoshihiko Harada, JASDF Air Defense Operations Group volunteer coordinator. "Events where the outside community is allowed to join in base events help to strengthen the relationships between our communities."