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About 100 runners participated in a half marathon at the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds on Friday, May 13, 2016. The run was the local version of the Marine Corps Historic Half that is to be run Sunday in Virginia.

About 100 runners participated in a half marathon at the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds on Friday, May 13, 2016. The run was the local version of the Marine Corps Historic Half that is to be run Sunday in Virginia. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

About 100 runners participated in a half marathon at the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds on Friday, May 13, 2016. The run was the local version of the Marine Corps Historic Half that is to be run Sunday in Virginia.

About 100 runners participated in a half marathon at the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds on Friday, May 13, 2016. The run was the local version of the Marine Corps Historic Half that is to be run Sunday in Virginia. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

British air force Wing Cmdr. Mike Aimsworth, 51, was one of about 100 runners who ran in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward half marathon on a route traversing the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul on Friday, May 13, 2016. The event was a shadow run for the Marine Corps Marathon's annual half-distance run in Fredricksburg, Va., on May 15, 2016.

British air force Wing Cmdr. Mike Aimsworth, 51, was one of about 100 runners who ran in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward half marathon on a route traversing the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul on Friday, May 13, 2016. The event was a shadow run for the Marine Corps Marathon's annual half-distance run in Fredricksburg, Va., on May 15, 2016. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

About 100 runners participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward half marathon held on the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016.

About 100 runners participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward half marathon held on the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

Army Maj. John Wingeart finished first out of roughly 100 runners who participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward half marathon within the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016.

Army Maj. John Wingeart finished first out of roughly 100 runners who participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward half marathon within the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

Runners on the course of a half marathon held Friday, May 13, 2016, on the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan. About 100 runners participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward.

Runners on the course of a half marathon held Friday, May 13, 2016, on the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan. About 100 runners participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

Army veteran Maria Amaya finished first among the women in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward, on a 13.1-mile, six-lap route across the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016. About 100 people participated in the run, which is a shadow event for the annual half marathon in Fredricksburg, Va., being held on May 15, 2016.

Army veteran Maria Amaya finished first among the women in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward, on a 13.1-mile, six-lap route across the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016. About 100 people participated in the run, which is a shadow event for the annual half marathon in Fredricksburg, Va., being held on May 15, 2016. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

Navy Cmdr. Bob Ramos gives Marine Brig. Gen. David Maxwell a finisher medal for running in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward on a circuitous 13.1-mile route traversing the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016. About 100 people participated in the half marathon.

Navy Cmdr. Bob Ramos gives Marine Brig. Gen. David Maxwell a finisher medal for running in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward on a circuitous 13.1-mile route traversing the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, May 13, 2016. About 100 people participated in the half marathon. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

About 100 runners participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward on the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, on May 13, 2016. The run is a shadow event for the annual half marathon in Fredricksburg, Va., being held on May 15, 2016.

About 100 runners participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half-Forward on the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday, on May 13, 2016. The run is a shadow event for the annual half marathon in Fredricksburg, Va., being held on May 15, 2016. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

KABUL, Afghanistan — For those American servicemembers and civilians here who are restricted to the U.S. Embassy and NATO compounds, running a lot of miles means they have to run in circles — and that’s what many did Friday morning.

About 100 runners, mostly from the embassy and the NATO mission, participated in the Marine Corps Historic Half–Forward, a half marathon held two days before the main event in Fredricksburg, Va., on Sunday. The 13.1-mile course took the runners on a circuitous, six-lap route through both compounds.

Maria Amaya, an Army veteran who finished first among the women, said it was among the shortest runs she’s done. She’s an ultramarathoner, she said.

“Normally, I don’t run anything shorter than a marathon because it’s much too fast,” she said. As to how she trains for the events, Amaya said, “you do lots and lots of laps.”

Army Maj. John Wingeart finished first among the men. He said he doesn’t normally run more than a few miles, but does CrossFit five times a week and “a lot of spinning, too.” He didn’t run to win, he said, but for the camaraderie.

“It’s always good to get out and run with everybody,” he said.

First-time half-marathoner Mike Aimsworth, a British air force wing commander, said he was running, in a sense, with a Marine he served with on his first tour in Afghanistan more than six years ago. That Marine, who goes by the name “Ziggy,” wasn’t in Kabul, but was slated to run the course in Virginia.

U.S. Ambassador P. Michael McKinley said such events “bring both sides” of the mission together, and help build community.

Amaya, who also organized the run and plotted the course, said the logistics of getting everyone together and pulling off the event was harder than running. But, she’s already working on the next event, called the Kabul Fitness Festival, which is slated for Memorial Day weekend.

It will feature 12 athletic competitions, including 5- and 10-kilometer (3- and 6-mile) runs, half and full marathons, and a 50-kilometer (31-mile) run, she said.

garland.chad@stripes.com Twitter: @chadgarland

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Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. An Illinois native who’s reported for news outlets in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Oregon and California, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.
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