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Airman strives to make a difference

  • Published
  • By Kevin Chandler
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
As Senior Airman Brendan Brustad ran the 2007 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, the tragedy inflicted on the families of the 168 people killed in the April 19, 1995 bombing had a strong impact on him. 

"Something clicked in me, and I wanted to do what I could to help the families," he said.

That desire culminated in Airman Brustad possibly breaking a world running record April 25 with a total of 461.4 miles. 

In honor
Airman Brustad, 97th Medical Group medical materiel journeyman, decided the best way to make a difference was with his feet. A year after the 2007 marathon, Airman Brustad embarked on a 168 mile run to honor those lost in Oklahoma City. 

He began his run in Altus, travelling 142 miles to Oklahoma City before completing the 26.2 mile 2008 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for a total distance of 168 miles.

While distance running is a long-time interest, Airman Brustad said having a cause made the training mean much more. 

"I'm motivated by 168 faces in my mind," he explained. "I have 168 reasons to run."

Determined to do even more, Airman Brustad searched for a new challenge. Initially, he planned to complete the journey to Oklahoma City without stopping to rest as he did the year before. As he trained for this, he learned his idol, ultra-marathon runner Dean Karnazes, was in pursuit of the world record for the most miles run on a treadmill in 48 hours. Airman Brustad realized that chasing the record for most miles run in seven days would require 168 hours on a treadmill.

"The 168 just leapt out at me," he said. "It's 168 hours for 168 lives." 

The journey
Enduring a rigorous training schedule that includes running with 40 and 85 pound weighted vests, Airman Brustad is relentless in his mission to make a difference. 

"I always think about what Oprah Winfrey said, 'Whatever you're going to do, let it mean something.' That is what I try to do," he said. "I can use this (running) to inspire people."

Airman Brustad and his passion for his cause have inspired many who know him and even many who do not. A few of his friends have completed races ranging from three miles to full marathons. While running to support the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma, Airman Brustad was joined by local high school athletes and more than 1,000 Soldiers from nearby Fort Sill.

On April 18, Airman Brustad began his quest for the world record for most miles run on a treadmill in 168 hours. To break the previous record of 455.19 miles, he had to complete roughly 66 miles per day. Breaking the world record would be fulfilling, but that was not Airman Brustad's primary focus. 

"It's about not giving up," he said. 

He didn't. Airman Brustad passed the previous record by 6.21 miles April 25. The feat is currently under review by Guinness World Book of Records officials, which may take a month or longer to determine. The following day, the Airman completed the 2009 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

Although these physical feats are impressive, they are not for everyone. Karl King, a veteran long distance runner, warns runners of the disastrous consequences of dehydration and low sodium intake in an article on Additionally, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Freeland, 97th Medical Group deputy commander warns this activity carries the possibility for adverse health effects. Before starting any such training program, people should consult their physicians.

Airman Brustad attributes his accomplishment to the support of his wife Misty and mother-in-law Kim Flannery. He encourages those interested to visit the Oklahoma City Memorial Website at and visit his page to learn more.