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Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Montoya, at left, reads a registration form, as his unit cohort Constructionman Recruit Devan Wallace, center, scans the early list of registered runners along with Sasebo Naval Base MWR employee Johnny Dalina late Tuesday afternoon behind the Fleet Gymnasium. The two Seabees participated in the third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run. Both are part of Naval Mobile Construction Unit Five, Sasebo Detachment, on deployment in southern Japan after arriving about two weeks ago from Port Hueneme, Calif.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Montoya, at left, reads a registration form, as his unit cohort Constructionman Recruit Devan Wallace, center, scans the early list of registered runners along with Sasebo Naval Base MWR employee Johnny Dalina late Tuesday afternoon behind the Fleet Gymnasium. The two Seabees participated in the third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run. Both are part of Naval Mobile Construction Unit Five, Sasebo Detachment, on deployment in southern Japan after arriving about two weeks ago from Port Hueneme, Calif. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Montoya, at left, reads a registration form, as his unit cohort Constructionman Recruit Devan Wallace, center, scans the early list of registered runners along with Sasebo Naval Base MWR employee Johnny Dalina late Tuesday afternoon behind the Fleet Gymnasium. The two Seabees participated in the third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run. Both are part of Naval Mobile Construction Unit Five, Sasebo Detachment, on deployment in southern Japan after arriving about two weeks ago from Port Hueneme, Calif.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Juan Montoya, at left, reads a registration form, as his unit cohort Constructionman Recruit Devan Wallace, center, scans the early list of registered runners along with Sasebo Naval Base MWR employee Johnny Dalina late Tuesday afternoon behind the Fleet Gymnasium. The two Seabees participated in the third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run. Both are part of Naval Mobile Construction Unit Five, Sasebo Detachment, on deployment in southern Japan after arriving about two weeks ago from Port Hueneme, Calif. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

The third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run, sponsored by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department at Sasebo Naval Base, started late Tuesday afternoon behind the Fleet Gymnasium and included about 40 runners from Naval Mobile Construction Battallion Five, Sasebo Detachment, on deployment at the southern Japan base from Port Hueneme, Calif.

The third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run, sponsored by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department at Sasebo Naval Base, started late Tuesday afternoon behind the Fleet Gymnasium and included about 40 runners from Naval Mobile Construction Battallion Five, Sasebo Detachment, on deployment at the southern Japan base from Port Hueneme, Calif. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

Wearing a white jersey and far ahead of the others, Cmdr. David Bustamante, Sasebo Naval Base's Public Works Officer, took the lead early as he pushed his daughter Anna Maria, who's almost three, in her three-wheeled buggy all the way through the third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run. As the winner, Bustamante, 39, received the wrapped Christmas present of his choice, and Anna Maria got a bright yellow, fresh banana as the race's champion passenger.

Wearing a white jersey and far ahead of the others, Cmdr. David Bustamante, Sasebo Naval Base's Public Works Officer, took the lead early as he pushed his daughter Anna Maria, who's almost three, in her three-wheeled buggy all the way through the third annual Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run. As the winner, Bustamante, 39, received the wrapped Christmas present of his choice, and Anna Maria got a bright yellow, fresh banana as the race's champion passenger. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Anna Maria Bustamante won her first race Tuesday even though she’s two months shy of birthday No. 3 — and even though she didn’t lift a foot.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that dad — Cmdr. David Bustamante, 39, the base’s Public Works officer — was in good enough shape that he could get them both across the finish line ahead of the 41 other runners.

The Bustamantes — he afoot, pushing her in a three-wheeled buggy — were among competitors late Tuesday afternoon in the Santa’s Reindeer Gift Exchange 4K Run. The father-daughter duo took a commanding early lead, finishing more than a minute ahead of the herd just 18 minutes, 48 seconds later.

The race, sponsored by Sasebo’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department, both started and ended at the Fleet Gymnasium on the Main Base.

“It wasn’t a bad time for me, for a 4K, but pushing my daughter in the stroller did slow me down a little,” said Bustamante, just before accepting his winner’s gift from another race participant, Lt. Dude Underwood, officer in charge of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Five, Sasebo Detachment.

Underwood and his Seabees colleagues arrived for a deployment rotation in Sasebo about two weeks ago from Port Hueneme, Calif.; many sailors from the unit ran in the MWR event.

Toddler Anna Maria “really enjoys being pushed in the stroller on runs like this,” Bustamante said. “As for me, yes, I’m an avid runner. But I really like to come out to support the MWR-sponsored running events; they have something like 25 or 30 of these a year, and you can’t get better than that.”

This holiday race had a theme inspired by the season — making it almost a given some variety of gift swapping would be involved.

Race coordinator and MWR Athletics Director Isaiah Mincks, waiting for the entrants to leg it back to the finish line, explained how it worked: “Each runner purchases and wraps a nice gift — but it shouldn’t cost them any more than $10. ... The gifts are combined, and the first to finish the race gets the pick of the pile. The next to finish has the next pick and so on.

“Since they are wrapped, the runners still don’t really know what they are getting. It’s all just about having a good time, health and fitness,” Mincks said, “and maybe working off some of that extra put on during Thanksgiving to make room for the Christmas meals.”

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