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Two Luke Airmen to compete in AF Marathon

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AETCNS) -- Air Education and Training Command has selected two Luke runners to represent the base and command at this year's Air Force Marathon, scheduled to take place Sept. 16 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Master Sgt. Mary Simmons, 56th Medical Group patient advocate, and Tech. Sgt. Philip Cushman Jr., 56th Communications Squadron NCO in charge of network administration, earned two of the four slots being sponsored by AETC for this year's race.

More than 40 runners from across the command submitted packages for the slots, said Judy Peterson, 56th Services Squadron Fitness Center programs director.

"I don't feel like a terribly gifted athlete, but if you work at it, you can achieve great things," Sergeant Cushman said.

This will be Sergeant Cushman's second time running the Air Force Marathon and sixth marathon in his running career. His goal is to run the 26.2 mile race in under 3 hours, 8 minutes. To date, his best marathon time is 3 hours, 15 minutes, which he set at the Las Vegas marathon, in Nevada last year.

"I feel a little more pressure to succeed now that I'm being sponsored," Sergeant Cushman said.

While this will be Sergeant Simmons' second full marathon, she has been a runner all her life. She ran Phoenix's 2006 P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, in 4 hours, 13 minutes, and is aiming to complete the Air Force Marathon in less than four hours.

Last year she competed as part of an AETC-sponsored relay team at the Air Force marathon.

"It's a privilege to represent the base and the command," Sergeant Simmons said.

Both runners describe the training they are doing for the race as "intense." They have been juggling getting up early and using parts of their weekends for running and weight training, while continuing to work and contribute to their families.

AETC is sponsoring two relay teams and four individual runners at this year's Air Force Marathon.

The men's relay team consists of Capt. David Max, Capt. Mark Roberts, Capt. Derek Rowe and TSgt. Randy Lund, all from Sheppard AFB, Texas. The women's relay team consists of Capt. Kate Bufton, 1st Lt. Tenaya Goc, 1st Lt. Kristin Sajevic and MSgt. Dora Caniglia, all from Laughlin AFB, Texas.

In addition to Sergeants Simmons and Cushman, the others running the full marathon are Maj. Timothy Moser, Randolph AFB, Texas; and Maj. Rebecca Welch, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

The Air Force Marathon is an official Air Force event. It began in 1997 to celebrate the Air Force's 50th anniversary. This year there are half marathon, 10K and 5K race options in addition to the full marathon.

More information on the event can be found at www.usafmarathon.com.