Taji, Iraq — The Warrior Tours visited seven U.S. military bases in the Middle East last month as part of its week-long tour to promote running and physical fitness during the semi-annual Armed Forces Physical Fitness Test.

One race scheduled at Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq, was cancelled because of a local sand storm, but the tour members offered tips to soldiers at the base fitness facilities and visited with recently wounded Purple Heart recipients instead.

The Warrior Tours included special appearances by NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus, Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter, and internationally renowned runner and author Bart Yasso.

“Fitness is very important, and I enjoy running myself as a way to stay fit,” Magnus said in a NASA release. “Without the sacrifices our military people make to keep our country free, we in the space business would not be able to focus on moving our country forward in new directions. I am very excited to have the opportunity to share my spaceflight experiences with them.”

Magnus served as a flight engineer on Expedition 18 and spent 128 days on the International Space Station. In space, she exercised for up to two hours a day using a specially designed treadmill with elastic cords to hold her down in the absence of gravity. The space station also is equipped with a cycle ergometer and a resistive exercise device for crew members, per NASA.

Organizers of more than 30 U.S. running events donated race shirts, medals and more for distribution at the tour events. At each stop, troops participated in running events with entertainment by Catchpenny, Armed Forces Entertainers of the year.

“Our troops work so hard defending our freedom, and this is just a small way for us to thank them and support them in their annual testing,” Rob Powers, founder of The Warrior Tours, said in a statement.