by Brian Todd
A deafening cannon-shot, and 25-thousand plus take off in the Pentagon's shadow for the army 10-miler, the largest race of its length in america.
A day too hot for October, but determination carries this day.
There are all sorts of inspirational stories around this race, amputees from Iraq, elderly runners, and one group who's doing this to fill an emotional void.
Nearly 3-dozen women running to honor their husbands in the combat-zone.
"We get together and we run and we share the times of our day and it's wonderful-- and it just fills that place," Alicia Surrey, whose husband is deployed in Iraq, said.
Most are married to men in the Army's third infantry division -- based at Fort Stewart, Georgia. They've been training for this since early-summer.
Liz mras is typical, her husband's on his third deployment to Iraq.
"It's just something that motivates us to keep going, look forward to. We have six more months left of our husbands' deployment and definitely it's just downhill from here," Liz Mras, whose husband is also deployed in Iraq, said.
That attitude permeates this group, not one seems to feel sorry for herself-- even though the Army Chief of Staff calls women like this, the most thinly-stretched part of the force.
"Supporting a husband or a wife who's been deployed for the second or third time, every deployment gets harder. And being there alone, dealing with the children, and then the uncertainty of not knowing the safety of your spouse on any given day, it's a draining experience," General George Casey, Army Chief of Staff, said.
Gabrielle Winton is the first of them to finish in just under an hour-and-a-half.
Her husband's on his second deployment.
She took motivation from those who've had even tougher times.
"Every time you pass a guy who's a 'Missing Parts in Action' guy, an MPIA, running with one or no legs, some of the Gold Star wives who've lost their husband, it's a sobering reminder, but it kinda just kicks you into gear," Gabrille Winton, whose husband is currently in Iraq said.
And they're already finding another gear, this group's next objective: a half-marathon.