By Leland Kim
(KHNL) - Close to 29,000 people will hit the pavement on Sunday for the 34th annual Honolulu Marathon.
Runners and their supports are flocking to Oahu, but there's a group of runners doing the same marathon half way around the world.
These military couples have two things in common: they love their country and they love running.
"I've been here since July, and I've gotten three runs in," said Colonel Walter Piatt, an operations officer with the U.S. Army, and a participant in the Honolulu Marathon in Iraq.
Well, maybe they don't exactly love running, but they enjoy this chance to bond with their loved ones.
And they have managed to maintain a training regimen in Iraq.
"I normally just train like a regular PT session in the morning," said Major Pam Ting, a military police officer with the 25th Infantry Division in Tikrit, and a participant in the Honolulu Marathon in Iraq. "We've managed to get in a few longer runs."
All the military folks participating in the marathon are running on behalf of a fallen service member.
"I think it's a true honor for myself to get a run for Sergeant First Class Paul Smith, who was the first Congressional Medal winner in Operation Iraqi Freedom" said Major Evan Ting, a Honolulu Marathon participant and Maj. Pam Ting's husband.
For Colonel Walter Piatt, his inspiration for doing this marathon is his wife Cynthia.
"I've lived in her shadows for many years," said Col. Piatt. "This is her fourth year in a row to run the Honolulu. I'm very proud of her and it's motivating to me."
And Cynthia supports her husband's mission in Iraq.
"We're really proud of you," said Cynthia Piatt.
"Hi, Cynthia. I love you," said Col. Piatt.
"I love you, too," she responded. "We're very proud of you and what you're doing over there."
The folks in Iraq are grateful for the support back home.
"Just mahalo for all their thoughts and prayers for all the soldiers over here," said Maj. Pam Ting.
Love, gratitude and remembrance: reasons the Honolulu Marathon is much more than a test of endurance.
The runners in Iraq will get a head start because of the time difference.