MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – For some, the thought of running any more than the required mile and a half for a physical fitness test brings chills and dread. Others, like Capt. Christopher Chorney, a pilot assigned to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, and Airman 1st Class Gantuya Larkins, an individual protective equipment technician assigned to the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron, think otherwise.
Chorney, Larkins and Staff Sgt. Matthew Altimari, a marine patrol member assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron Marine Patrol, were selected to represent the Air Mobility Command team in the Major Command Challenge during this year’s Air Force Marathon.
“I like the aspect of representing the entire MAJCOM and competing against the best in the Air Force,” said Chorney. “The trophy for the first place team is also pretty nice.”
What started out in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Air Force, the Air Force Marathon has grown into a 15,000 participant event represented by all 50 states and various foreign countries.
“It is one of the biggest marathons in the USA,” said Larkins. “There will be so many experienced and higher ranking Airmen on the AMC team, and being among these experienced runners is a huge motivation for me.”
The MAJCOM Challenge is made up of 12 teams that consist of 10 runners each. The teams are split up with four runners participating in the full marathon and six in the half marathon. The Airmen from MacDill will be running in the half marathon.
“It is amazing that three people are representing AMC from MacDill,” said Larkins. “Being part of the AMC team and representing our MAJCOM is a huge honor for me, especially because I am a junior enlisted Airman and still developing as a long distance runner.”
Anyone in the MAJCOMs can apply. Applicants are to submit their top times and accomplishments in racing with their applications. The top times are how runners are selected to be on the team.
“I was pretty surprised when I found out I was accepted,” said Larkins. “I was looking at previous years’ MAJCOM Challenge results and our MAJCOM runners had some very fast times in that race.”
As impressive as the idea of running the marathon may seem, being fast enough just doesn’t happen overnight.
“I have been running since I was in middle school, close to 20 years now,” said Chorney. “I ran in high school and during my four years at the Academy, where I was a part of the Marathon club. I also compete in the 5Ks put on by the Short Fitness Center. They are a fun and beneficial way to gauge my training.”
For Larkins, she said her interest in running happened right before she enlisted in 2014.
“Before joining the Air Force, I thought running was going to be a big challenge for me,” said Larkins. “I began running more and more. I started improving, and most importantly, liking it.”
One challenge both runners did admit to is contending with the Florida heat.
“The heat tends to dictate my workouts more than I like it to,” said Chorney. “It is too hot to run outside during the day, so I always plan to run inside.”
According to Larkins, getting out early enough in the morning is crucial.
“Dehydration and sunburn are serious issues,” said Larkins.
Despite the unforgiving heat, the runners shared a positive side to running.
“The best part of running is the feeling you have after reaching your distance, it’s both physical and mental,” said Larkins. “Physically, you’re feeling refreshed and the endorphins are flowing and mentally, you are basking in a sense of accomplishment for a job well done.”
Chorney also noted that he sleeps better, and the results from the beginning to the end of training are pretty noticeable.
The Air Force Marathon is an incredible accomplishment, but for Chorney, this race holds extra meaning for him.
“My wife will be coming to watch this year, so that makes this race special for me,” said Chorney. “This will be her first time traveling to one of my races out of state, and it will be special to finally share the experience of representing AMC in the team competition with her. She is a runner too, so she understands the excitement about waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning to watch people run.”
Additional information on the event can be found at http://www.usafmarathon.com/