TAJI, IRAQ -- As part of its week-long tour to promote running and physical fitness during the semi-annual Armed Forces Physical Fitness Test, The Warrior Tours visited the 615th Aviation Support Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad on July 11.

During its week in the Middle East, the tour will host races at seven U.S. military bases. The Warrior Tours also includes 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. While in space, she exercised for up to two hours a day using a specially designed treadmill that includes 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, according to NASA.

Organizers of more than 30 U.S. running events donated race shirts, medals and other supplies to be distributed at the tour events. At each stop, the troops can participate in a running event with evening entertainment by Catchpenny, 2009 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 and co-host of America’s Races Salute the Troops, said in a statement. “We are blowing out these semi-annual tests, which are generally done with little fanfare, into full-scale, world-class race events.”