THE FIRST TAJI 100
was held at former Camp Taji, in Al Taji, Iraq, in February of 2010. The once-thriving American military base was located in a rural region approximately 20 miles north of Baghdad. During the Saddam years,the camp was an Iraqi Republican Guard base central to the production of chemical weapons. Camp Taji was heavily bombed during Operation Desert Fox, and came under American control in 2003. The last of our U.S. troops withdrew from the base in 2011.
Captain Carole DiPardo, 211th Military Police Battalion, created the friendly competition for her fellow troops in Camp Taji with a simple goal: Run 100 miles during the month of February. Although DiPardo originally established the challenge to promote cardiovascular health and fitness, the run was also instrumental in helping stationed U.S. service members relieve stress and boredom during what were often long and tedious deployments. With nearly 300 regististered runners and walkers its first year, the inaugural Taji 100 was a huge success.
Paul Fukuma, President and Chairman of Taji 100, was a participant in the first race while serving as a US Army Combat Medic in Taji, and has competed in 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons ever since. To help others follow through with their New Year’s health and fitness resolutions, he organized the first stateside
Taji 100 in 2011. Fukuma says, “I see most people’s New Year’s Resolution motivation start to fade after only a month. This competition will help to keep those fitness promises and hopefully get people over that slump in motivation.”