Airmen ‘embrace the challenge’ at AF marathon
By Senior Airman Naomi Griego, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 30, 2014
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "The reward is the effort but you will be humbled."
After 36 years of running and nearly 150 races later these are the words that Chief Master Sgt. Alex Escarcega, 310th Operations Group chief enlisted manager, lives by.
Escarcega competed as part of the Air Force Space Command team in the Air Force Marathon Sept. 20 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Lt. Elyse Crimm, 1st Space Operations Squadron, represented the AFSPC team as well in the half-marathon event.
For Escarcega, running is more than therapeutic, more than a feel-good chemical release, more than a means to earn a medal. It is his lifestyle. After going nearly 365 days and only taking five days off to rest, it's clear he won't be stopping anytime soon.
"After mile 19, I was fatigued and hungry, but I never thought about quitting," he said. "When you think you're hurting or you're having a rough time and turn to see someone running next to you with a prosthetic limb it really puts things in perspective."
When he was younger, he couldn't fathom even running 2 miles let alone 26. He's grown since then and has learned a lot about himself.
"I never do anything for recognition," he said. "I do it to push my limits."
Modest words coming from a man who ran 26.2 miles in 3:05:02 placing 38th overall while simultaneously qualifying for the 2015 Boston Marathon.
He says he looks at adversity both with running and in life with a positive outlook.
"Mountains are opportunities to excel, not challenges," said Escarcega. "Not everybody is going to make it up at the same time. But, ask yourself, 'Have I done everything I can?'"
His teammate Crimm faced some challenges of her own during the race.
"Three miles into it, my legs cramped and my music died," she said. "I had to slow down and listen to my body. I had trained so hard and I refused to quit."
She wasn't defeated, and ultimately, she finished in 1:49:31 placing 81st in the female category for the half-marathon.
Crimm said it was important to not be overly critical of herself when things didn't go according to plan.
"It's not about anyone else's race it's about mine," she said. "This was my first time running as part of a team. I loved the camaraderie and it was a learning experience."
While most would probably take a break from running after a big event, both Escarcega and Crimm are already looking for the next opportunity to excel.
"I can't wait to run the next race," said Escarcega "I embrace the challenge."
Editor's note: This is the last part of a series highlighting Schriever Airmen's journey to the Air Force Marathon.