The Air Force active duty members are a physically fit group of people. Many choose to go above and beyond their annual PT training and aim for higher goals. A group of Airmen on Minot AFB have set their sights on participating in the esteemed Air Force Marathon on September 17 and are working together weekly to train and run together. The group, led and organized by Chaplain Mark Bradshaw 5th BW, consists of both experienced runners and newbies who have the same goal in mind: to run the AF Marathon or Half Marathon this September.
Bradshaw saw the need to create this group on Minot AFB from his own personal experiences. He said, “My journey to becoming a runner was like Forrest Gump’s. I went through an unexpected broken engagement and went down to Lake Michigan in Chicago and just started running. The next day I ran longer, and then longer, and the rest is history. What I discovered was a healthy coping mechanism that got me outside, appreciating the beauty of the natural surroundings, and eventually a life-long practice that I have come to truly enjoy.” When asked why he thought Minot AFB needed a marathon group he replied that since he has experienced the benefits both mentally and physically of running, he wanted to be able to offer that same benefit to the Airmen. He also added that, “As a chaplain, it seemed like a great opportunity to serve both people of faith and the non-religious – by improving physical fitness, a healthy form of community and means of practicing spirituality.”
While Bradshaw noted that the ultimate goal of the group is to simply to “Challenge yourself to run farther than you have before,” most of the members are signed up to run the half, or full marathon which many have not done before.
The AF Marathon, which runs yearly at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton Ohio, is the ultimate goal for many Airmen. However with it’s distance away from Minot, getting a large group of Minot Airmen there and away from work is difficult. To combat this issue and still allow runners to run the marathon, Bradshaw was able to work with the Minot base leadership and the AF marathon team itself to create a way for members of this running community to participate in the Bismarck marathon- September 17- yet still received medals and notoriety as if they had run the AF marathon in Dayton.
Although the immediate goal of the group, which meets Wednesday evenings at 6pm at Bud Ebert Park, is to train for the upcoming marathon, Bradshaw hopes to continue the group after the event to promote the overall wellness of running and encourage others that it is possible. Bradshaw also hopes to create a triathlon group to help others train, swim and bike successfully in the future.
Current members of the running group consist of active duty members, spouses and even civilian employees on the base. Last Wednesday, July 13, while the group was preparing for their Week 9 training session, the Northern Sentry caught up with several members of the group to find out how the training is going and what the running group means to them. SrA Ashton Burton, 791 MSFS, said that this will be his first marathon and he first heard about the group from a co-worker and is loving it! He hopes to participate in the full marathon in Bismarck. Amn Forrest Anciso, 91 MXSS, is brand new to Minot AFB (barely a week and half since arrival) and joined the group for the first time. He was a big runner in high school, saw the flier posted and decided to come and see what it was all about. A1C Koleen Sallta, 5 FSS, has been running with the group for a while and said it was her dream to ultimately complete a triathlon. She said she needed to get involved with serious runners in order to be inspired, and this group has helped her in that way. A1C Ben Smith, 5 MDG, also ran track in high school and says he is right on track to compete in the upcoming marathon thanks to this group.
Even though the running group has been training for some weeks now, Bradshaw said that they are still open to new people who want to join to learn better running technique, get in shape or just to find a group of fun people. “In the group we have all levels of runners, including those who ran cross country and those who just like to get out and move. It is a very welcoming and supportive community, we give each other high fives the whole time, and there is a lot of collective wisdom from different group members. This really is a great opportunity for people who are “future-tense runners” to come out and develop a love for the sport. Similarly, for those who are competitive and want to improve their time, form, etc., we can challenge and encourage one another along the way. So I would encourage someone to just come out and have fun.” To join the runners, simply come on out to Bud Ebert Park every Wednesday evening, at 6pm and start running! Don’t forget to also cheer on the Minot AFB members marathon runners in Bismarck in a few months’ time.