GOLDWATER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ariz. --
Since its inaugural event in September of 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force Marathon has grown immensely in prestige and participation. The 2019 Air Force Marathon drew 12,600 runners from every state, ages and ranks to run in events ranging from a children’s 1-kilometer race all the way up to the full 26.2 mile marathon.
Amidst the flurry of runners was Arizona Air National Guard Master Sgt. Dan Martin, 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of refueling.
For the 2019 Air Force Marathon, Martin was selected to participate in the run as part of the 10-member Air National Guard team to compete against 10 other U.S. Air Force Major Command teams.
“I had put together my running resume,” said Martin. “From there I had gone in to apply to join the team, but it ended up working out because they had already searched me out from previous marathon times. At that point the team’s captain reached out and after speaking with them, and after we talked she invited me to join the Air National Guard team. I’ve wanted to be on the Air National Guard marathon team for the past few years, however, I just haven’t found the right time to be able to make it happen until this year,” said Martin.
The experience of the annual event, naturally, made for a really great tribute to U.S. Air Force heritage and history due to its location and setting.
“It was really cool getting out there and they have everyone from all the MAJCOM teams together for a pre-race dinner inside the Air Force Museum with all the aircraft and history,” said Martin.
Martin’s training for the event came at a rough time during the year for Phoenicians, as the weather can be quite unfavorable in July and August.
“It was a rough 14 weeks of training leading up to the marathon, because in Phoenix it’s extremely hot for the 14 weeks leading up to September,” said Martin. “I had to get up at three in the morning six days a week to run, and the temperatures were still in the 90’s.”
This year’s marathon presented its challenges for Martin especially due to environmental effects and weather.
“Once I had gotten to Ohio for the marathon, it took some adjusting to get used to the warm, heavy, and humid, air out there,” said Martin. “When it came time for the race to start, there was some lightning and a big thunderstorm that passed through, which delayed the race a bit. When we did finally get started it was nice weather, a bit muggy, but after about two hours the sun peeked through the clouds and really warmed things up for the last hour and a half.”
When all was said and done, Martin had placed 49th overall in the marathon with a very respectable time of 3:27:07 which helped the ten-member Air National Guard team to a 1st place finish among the competing MAJCOM teams.
“We had four runners for the full marathon, and six for the half marathon,” said Martin. “It was the total time of all 10 runners that our team was scored on. I believe we beat out second place by just about two minutes. It’s crazy because our total time was about 23 hours, but it all came down to a two minute difference.”
The camaraderie of the team runners brought these Airmen a little bit closer and helped showcase the amazing people of the U.S. Air Force, USAF Reserves, and the Air National Guard.
“The best part of this whole experience was being able to represent the Air National Guard on a big platform like this,” said Martin. “My family has a lot of ties to the 161st ARW and the Air National Guard so it was great to help the Air National Guard team get a win over the other MAJCOMs.
The positive experience and passion for running has definitely kept Martin inspired to look forward to future marathons.
“I am looking forward to the Boston Marathon next year in April,” said Martin. “Hopefully, after that, I will see if I can get the opportunity to run in the 2020 Air Force Marathon or half-marathon events.”