SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Five Schriever Airmen participated in the 23rd annual U.S. Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 21.
More than 13,000 runners from all states, ages and ranks came out to run in various events, including a 1K kid's race, a full marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K runs.
Although there was a rain delay for the 10K, full and half marathons, Schriever Airmen persevered.
“The race began with rain, which was welcomed, though the 100 percent humidity was not,” said Nick Ruiz, 1st Space Operations Squadron, who ran the half marathon and finished with a time of 1:29:26.
Ruiz said because of the rain delay, staying focused was challenging, but the fireworks and Gen. David Golfein, Air Force Chief of Staff’s opening remarks at the beginning made it worth the wait.
“Overall, the race is always very challenging since you want to do your best but enjoy the atmosphere at the same time,” he said. “The course path changed this year for whatever reasoning to include the addition of more hills toward the end of the course and made it more difficult to keep my goal pace.”
“My favorite part every year is somewhere in the middle of ‘no mans’ land,” he said. “There are always a bunch of little kids enthusiastic to get in a high-five from passing runners. It’s a neat feeling to have support from total strangers and have these kids be excited to support all of the runners.”
Albert Stoner, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron, planned to compete in the race, but due to tendonitis, had to withdrawal. Although he did not compete, his personal goal was to support his teammates.
“What other joy is there to represent your MAJCOM and Schriever AFB in AF-level competition?” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s been really fun building relationships with my teammates, encouraging each other and holding each other accountable.”
Leah Smith, 50th Operations Support Squadron, said the experience was one in a million.
“My goal was four hours and thirty minutes, but finished the full in five hours and two minutes,” she said. “Even though I didn’t make my goal, this race was still my best time despite the heat.”
Smith said during the first half her body felt great and she kept a good pace, about 10 minutes and 45 seconds per mile.
“Miles 16 to the end were pretty brutal,” she said. “Once I hit mile 16, it became mind over matter. I just remained positive, told myself I could keep going, and just needed to stay focused.”
Smith said the most rewarding part was finishing.
“It was just an awesome feeling knowing your body could rest after running 26.2 miles in the heat,” she said. “I also enjoyed how my family (mom, dad, sister, and brother) were there for me in the beginning of the race, in the middle and at the end. They definitely kept me going.”
Stoner said it’s important for Airmen to participate in events like the AF marathon because it challenges you to step outside your comfort zone.
“I was offered a chance to apply as a personal challenge,” he said. “I thought about it, knew it would be something completely different than I have ever done. Would I do it again? Definitely.”