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Keesler Airmen triumph at AF Marathon, contribute to charity

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Duncan McElroy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
It's no small feat to run a marathon. Comprising of an impressive 26.2 miles, marathons aren't for the faint of heart. Weeks and weeks of training, altered sleeping and eating habits and stress on the body all culminate in a king-sized run many will never even consider taking on.

Senior Airman Martin Githui, Staff Sgt. Thomas Hutchins and Master Sergeants Brian Johns, Richard Crim and Terrell Breaux attended the 18th annual Air Force Marathon Sept. 20, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to show support from Keesler and raise money for the Air Force Enlisted Village.

Held in part to celebrate the Air Force's 67th birthday, the marathon attracted approximately 15,000 runners this year, with more than 30,000 total attendees between runners and spectators.

The five teammates from Keesler who participated in the run all pledged to each raise $500 for the AFEV, an organization based in Shalimar, Florida, which provides housing facilities and services to surviving spouses of Air Force enlisted members.

Johns said running the marathon was an awesome experience, because he got to go to the National Museum of the United States Air Force and hear Dave McGillivray, the Boston Marathon race director, speak.

"He was an incredible speaker," said Master Sgt. Terrell Breaux, 338th Training Squadron career development course writer. "Hearing what he said and applying it to the run really helped get me pumped and kept me motivated."

"My experience was great," said Master Sgt. Richard Crim, 81st Security Forces Squadron plans and programs superintendent. "It was my fourth marathon this year, and I would have to say the best one yet, since I had great Airmen at my side."

While attending the event may have been awe-inspiring, the road to preparing for such an affair wasn't easy.

"Training was grueling because of the environment here," said Johns. "The climate and humidity made it brutal to train. I was on the road by 4:30 a.m. most days to get my long runs in."

"I trained for 16 weeks; leading up to the race I was running four times a week," said Breaux. "It's been a lifestyle change, now I'm hooked on running."

Previously, Breaux had run a half marathon. The longest he had run before training for the Air Force Marathon was 16 miles.

"This took quite a bit more training," he said. "It was a much longer distance for my long runs, and eventually the short runs felt long too. Just being able to go into this, you have to have some sort of plan."

When undertaking a task like this, people often have motivators that keep them focused and resolute in completing their goals.

There were two motivating factors for Johns, he said. He had pledged to raise at least $500 for the AFEV, and running a full marathon was something he'd never done before. He wanted to challenge himself physically and prove to himself he could do it.

He'd run several half marathons in the past, and with some friendly nudging from his friend Crim, he pushed himself to run the full 26.2 miles.

"If you're going to do it, be committed to it," said Johns. "Don't go in half-heartedly, go all in."

Some people, like Johns, set personal goals and work to achieve them. Others, like Breaux, have more deep-seated reasons for pushing themselves.

"The Air Force birthday is the same day as my dad's birthday," he said. "He passed away five years ago. I'd always wanted to do the Air Force Marathon, but this gave me the extra motivation. Towards the end it was just like 'I have to keep going [for him].'"

Some run to be a role model for those close to them.

"I ran because I wanted to set the example for my troops and for my son," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Hutchins, 81st Contracting Squadron contract specialist. "I wanted them to see if you commit yourself to something, then you can accomplish any goal you set. I wanted them to see that it's possible to step out of your comfort zone and accomplish something that seems way out of reach. You come out stronger and more confident by doing so."

Whether running to achieve personal goals, raise money for an organization or for something a little closer to the heart, these five Keesler Airmen used their motivations to push them to the finish line.

"The marathon was definitely a great milestone that opened my eyes," said Senior Airman Martin Githui, 81st Contracting Squadron contract specialist. "I now realize that I cannot set any limits. I had great pride in myself and having fellow wingmen meant I could not drop out because I wanted to come back home with the medal."

Johns has already signed up for another run, the Pensacola Marathon on Veteran's Day weekend, and is giving Breaux a few friendly prods to join him in it.

"I'm hooked on it now," said Breaux. "I've got some recovering to do, but I definitely want to do it again. This has changed my outlook on competitions. I'll always be looking out for the next training opportunity and competition."