By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6
TULSA, OK - While racers were winding around downtown streets in Tulsa, hundreds of soldiers were kicking up sand in Iraq.
The first Tulsa Run Iraq took off hours before the race in Tulsa.
As Tulsa runners dealt with near freezing temperatures, Iraq runners braced for a big sandstorm. For Oklahoma soldiers, finishing the race is a way to send a special message back home.
Some last minute stretches for Kelly Philips. It's her first Tulsa Run and this race means the world to her.
"I definitely feel like he's with me, running this run with me," said soldier wife, Kelly Phillips.
Her husband is half a world away, serving in Balad, Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Tyson Phillips wanted to bring a taste of Tulsa to the Middle East. He helped put together a version of the same race.
More than 600 soldiers from every state in the country took part. Eight-thousand miles away, he says it's a way to be by his wife's side.
"Our schedules differ so much that this was one of the few things we can do and be together," said Chief Warrant Officer Tyson Phillips with the Oklahoma National Guard. "So, this was a little part of home for me, and a little part of here for them.
In Tulsa time, the two starting guns went off about 10 hours apart.
"He texted me right before. I know his time, I know what I need to beat, and it's exciting," said Kelly Phillips.
The couple's son says since his father's deployment, this is as close as he has felt to his dad.
"Cause we're both doing the same run," said son, Caleb Phillips.
And off the mother and son went, thinking of Oklahoma's heroes.
"I'll be home soon and I miss everybody and love them all," said Chief Warrant Officer Tyson Phillips.
One runner has contacted The News On 6 to share his story about what a road race is like in the middle of a war zone. Click here to read the letter from Major Rick Poplin with the Oklahoma National Gaurd.