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Air Force Marathon: a run to remember

Air Force Marathon: a run to remember

Senior Airman Athena Garretson, 7th Munitions Squadron munitions controller, took part in the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 15, 2018. Garretson, along with nine other Airmen from various bases under Air Force Global Strike Command, were selected to represent the Command in various events that took place over the weekend. Garretson finished the marathon with a time of 4:32:40. (Courtesy photo)

Air Force Marathon: a run to remember

Senior Airman Athena Garretson, 7th Munitions Squadron munitions controller, took part in the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 15, 2018. Even though Garretson took part in the full marathon, Airmen could participate in other events such as a 5K, 10K and a half-marathon. (Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Van Syoc)

Air Force Marathon: a run to remember

Runners take off for the 22nd annual Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 15, 2018. Over 13,000 runners participated in the 5K, 10K, half and full marathons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

DYESS PUBLIC AFFAIRS, Texas -- The day starts early. Clouds cover up the sky above as runners from all different backgrounds take their spot at the checkered start line, each of them adorned with a number. It’s almost 7:30 a.m. at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. As the clock ticks to the half-hour, a gunshot signals the start of what they have all gathered to take part in: the Air Force Marathon, a 26.2-mile course.

For many runners, the preparation for the marathon started long before the weekend of Sept 15. For one runner in particular, her training began several months before.

“I started my training back in May,” said Senior Airman Athena Garretson, 7th Munitions Squadron munitions controller. “I had been in a few marathons in the past, but this was the first time I have heard about the Air Force Marathon.”

To Garretson, it was more than taking part in a running event. Garretson had to go through a selection process along with other Airmen prior to being selected to represent Air Force Global Strike Command.

“The application process to run for your MAJCOM starts between March and May,” Garretson said. “You submit a form detailing all of your qualifications, such as past runs and the times you’ve completed them. From there, each MAJCOM selects a team of ten Airmen to represent it during the events.”

There are multiple events during the weekend, including a 5K, 10K, half and a full marathon. According to the official Air Force Marathon website, more than 13,000 people participated in the various events throughout the weekend.

Garretson ran with several other Airmen selected by AFGSC for the full marathon event, all of them from different bases under the MAJCOM.
“It’s easy to get ingrained into the culture from one base, you forget that it can be so different somewhere else,” Garretson said. “Dyess is my first base, but I loved the opportunity to be able to run for our MAJCOM and meet so many different people and see the sort of local base culture they’re used to.”

Garretson, who participated in the full marathon event, trained with her husband in the months leading up to the event.

“I woke up every morning before sunrise to run,” Garretson said. “My husband would keep me going and make sure I stuck to my training every day.”

Training played a huge part in doing well at the marathon. While not every Airman will take part in a marathon, they can apply many of the same lessons and the perspective that Garretson has while training.
“It’s about the little milestones to get where you want to be,” Garretson said. “For my training, I did my best to run just a little farther each day, a little longer every time to work up to where I wanted to be. Even then, don’t beat yourself up if you fall short.”

Though Garretson didn’t make the time goal she had set for herself, she will use that as a reason to try harder when she applies to represent Air Force Global Strike Command in 2019.

“I still did something that I’m proud of: I finished a 26.2-mile run,” Garretson said. “Whether you did two miles or 20 miles, be proud of what you’ve accomplished and use it to inspire you to do better next time.”