Airmen Run Miles In Memoriam
(October 24, 2010)
|OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (10/21/2010 - AFNS) -- For many
people, running 26.2 miles may seem like a crazy idea. But,
for the nine members of the 55th Force Support Squadron's
running team, it's just another challenge to overcome.|
The team, formed in July, after some members of the 55th FSS
expressed interest in running the Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio
Marathon Nov. 14.
Members of the 55th Force Support Squadron marathon running team pose for a group photo Oct. 8, 2010, outside the field house at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
In late July, a squadron-wide e-mail went out
asking for people to join the team, train
together and run the marathon in November.
Before long, the team had nine members, ranging
in rank from Airman 1st class to captain, and
even a coach from the 55th Security Forces
Master Sgt. Johnathan M. Ward, a Personnel
Reliability Program monitor for the 55th SFS,
and also the team coach, is a certified Marathon
Maniac, having completed 13 marathons. To meet
the minimum requirement to join the Marathon
Maniac club, one must run two marathons in 16
days or three marathons within 90 days. Sergeant
Ward has completed five marathons this year. The
San Antonio marathon will be his sixth.
Sergeant Ward e-mails the team regularly with training tips and a running plan
for each individual member. He also provides training advice and feedback to
each member when the team meets for long runs.|
Another member of the team, Capt. Alejandra Czerniak, the manpower and personnel
flight commander, has completed five marathons traveling as far away as Boston
and Dublin, Ireland.
However, for most members of the team, the San Antonio marathon will be their
"I think our goal is just to finish," said Staff Sgt. Nina Lawson, the NCO in
charge of installation personnel readiness and one of the team's leaders.
"It's not necessarily to finish at a certain time or be the fastest, but it's a
personal goal to accomplish something that so few people say they've
accomplished," Sergeant Lawson said.
The team's fastest runner, Airman 1st Class David J. Smith, a fitness
specialist, shares Sergeant Lawson's sentiment.
"I've never actually run a marathon and I just want to run (one) to say I did
it," Airman Smith said.
A veteran of numerous 5-kilometer races, Airman Smith said finishing the
marathon is his ultimate goal, and running with his fellow Airmen is helping him
meet that challenge.
"I normally only run 10 miles on the weekends without a set plan," he said.
"Training as a team is teaching me to keep running and run for longer distances.
It's also (improving) my conditioning as we increase our mileage every week."
Each team member runs alone from four to five times a week. Runs Monday through
Friday consist of easy runs between four and six miles, as well as hill and
speed training. The team meets on Sundays for long runs.
On Oct. 3, the team completed its longest run to date --18 miles at the Wabash
Trace Nature Trail in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
After the run, several members talked about running for more than just
themselves. Now, they're running to honor the lives and memories of others.
Airman 1st Class Wilson Delos Trino, a force management operations technician,
is running to honor Fran Pritchard, a former civilian employee who passed away
earlier this year because of cancer.
Airman Delos Trino said running in honor of Ms. Pritchard's memory has been
life-changing for him.
"When I talked to the people she worked with and I saw their eyes and how happy
(they were) to know I'm running in honor of her, that kind of touched my heart,"
Senior Airman Brianne Bishop, a retentions technician, and Airman 1st Class
Jarvis Cobb, an installation readiness journeyman, are running in honor of
retired Tech. Sgt. Gary Snyder, who recently lost his battle with cancer.
Sergeant Snyder's wife, Heidi, a 55th FSS financial services officer, was so
moved by both Airmen's desire to run for her husband that she sponsored them
both, covering their marathon entry fees.
"Heidi Snyder is a really sweet lady, and when I first got here her husband was
going through a lot of problems," Airman Cobb said, "I really didn't know her at
that time, but over the past two years working with her, I've gotten to know
her. When she asked to sponsor us for our run, (that) was a big thing.
"When she looked at us, she said, 'you're gonna do this, you're gonna finish
it,'" Airman Cobb said. "Knowing someone is supporting you for doing something
for someone they loved, (that's) amazing."
Every member on the team has a personal incentive for running this marathon.
Staff Sgt. Yaneth Tebo, the NCOIC of promotions and a team leader, is running
for human rights. Airman 1st Class Adam M. Dilley, an assignment counselor, is
running for his grandparents and Sergeant Lawson is running for any
servicemember who has ever been a prisoner of war or reported as missing in
"I run because others can't," she said.
Article and photo by USAF SSgt. James M. Hodgman
55th Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News
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