HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Two Airmen assigned here have been selected to run in the Air Force Marathon Sept. 16 as Air Force Materiel Command team members.
Senior Airman Charles Henderson, a weather forecaster assigned to the 75th Operations Support Squadron, will be competing in the full marathon; 1st Lt. Mary Boyle, sustainment management officer in charge with the 75th Civil Engineer Squadron, will be running the half marathon.
The Air Force Marathon was first held on Sept. 20, 1997; that first marathon commemorated the Air Force’s 50th anniversary. The event has since been held annually on the third Saturday in September and has consistently been a tradition for thousands. All events, including the full 26.2-mile run, are held on race courses that traverse historical locations on Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Because the marathon will be run at a lower elevation than Hill AFB, both Airmen are confident it will give them a boost come race day. “It’s a little easier to breathe at the lower altitudes,” said Boyle.
Boyle is motivated by performance improvement and has set high expectations for herself.
“I like the sense of accomplishment I get after tackling a really long run, or watching my times drop during an interval workout,” she said. Her past marathons include the Colorado Marathon (2014), AF Marathon (2015), Boston Marathon (2017), and half marathons in Utah, Texas, and Colorado. Due to a recent ankle injury she has had to curtail her training but still expects “to break 1:40 (maintain a 7:30/mile pace) and finish in the top ten women overall.”
Henderson runs for a different reason. Since recovering from an injury, he has gotten back into running in order to pursue his dream of a special operations career.
“[Running] is one of my weaknesses. I have never particularly enjoyed running outside of sports and I’ve never had to be any better at it than I already naturally was,” he said. But his desire to become a Battlefield Airman gave him a different perspective on running. “I learned that just getting beyond the standard isn’t enough. You need to exceed above and beyond the standard, if you hope to make it.”
Besides career aspirations, Henderson derives inspiration from those who have completed seemingly impossible athletic feats: ultra-marathoners. “Most people don’t want to have to drive 100 miles, so the fact that there are people willing to run that distance in one continuous race is amazing,” he said.
Runners from around the world and of every level participate in the full marathon, wheelchair marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K distances. The race was capped in 2016 at 15,500 participants across all events and it is certified by the USA Track and Field Association as a Boston Qualifier.
“Whenever people find out I run marathons, they act like just finishing one is this huge feat which they could never do. Anyone can run a marathon,” said Boyle, encouraging others.
“Sometimes you have to put a concrete goal with a set timeline before you to force yourself to rise to the challenge,” added Henderson, who is participating in his first marathon. “I am just looking to finish.”
For those who may be interested, race information can be obtained at http://www.usafmarathon.com/.