Three Vance Airmen complete Air Force Marathon

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tony Wickman
  • Public Affairs
Three Team Vance members returned triumphantly home after running the 11th Annual Air Force Marathon Sept. 15 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Capt. Brian Moyer, 1st Lt. Anthony Weedn and Airman 1st Class Brett Polzin competed with more than 5,800 participants in this year's activities.

Not all was easy going for the Vance competitors to participate in the race, but in the end all three completed the endurance challenge.

For Lieutenant Weedn, 32nd Flying Training Squadron member, overcoming a leg injury, bronchitis and an airplane malfunction were part of the adventure.

"The other people I ran with called me the gimp-legged, bronchitis-stricken runner," he said. "I could barely walk after crossing the finish line, but I just had this smile on my face the entire time. It was one of the most rewarding accomplishments."

According to Captain Moyer, 71st Operations Support Squadron member, he ran more than 750 miles in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio and Kentucky to prepare for the race.

"I trained at an 8-minute mile pace, but never could sustain the pace beyond 16 miles," Moyer said. "However, I ran the race in 3 hours, 50 minutes, 21 seconds for an 8-minute, 46-second mile pace and placed 439 out of 1,651 participants."

For Moyer, his family provided the motivation to keep running, even when he felt his first pain on the third mile of the race.

"My family -- born and unborn -- were my motivation to keep going," the captain said. "My wife Pamela is pregnant with twins, one boy and one girl, and the boy has been a big concern for us because of his slow growth rate. The courage he has shown in fighting for his life served as a source of strength for me during the race."

Captain Moyer and Lieutenant Weedn flew together from Vance to Ohio in a T-1 Jayhawk on an instructor pilot continuation training sortie that added to their adventure.

"Weedn and I almost did not make it to the race when we had a gear malfunction on initial take-off out of Vance and had to return for an uneventful landing," Captain Moyer said. "Luckily they gave us another jet and we made it on the second attempt."

Airman Polzin, 71st Communications Squadron member, trained on his own for the marathon to give himself a different kind of challenge.

"I thought about it for awhile and finally said I would give it a shot," he said. "When I joined the Air Force I could barely run two miles. When I finally started running, two miles became four and then more. I kept working and did the marathon. It was worth it and I'm glad to say I did it."

Airman Polzin trained for the race by running 25 miles a week -- typically five miles a day Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, two miles on Fridays and longer runs on the weekends.

"You hear that saying that the journey is the reward and that is the way it is. You train for it and then it happens. I think about hard it was to make it through, but now it feels like I accomplished something special," he said. 

Lieutenant Weedn completed the race in 5 hours, 42 minutes, 57 seconds and Airman Polzin completed the race in 4 hours, 22 minutes, 6 seconds.

The race set a record for the number of competitors to register for the race, up by more than 20 percent from 2006. The number of participants was ahead in two significant categories -- the full marathon and half marathon, said Molly Louden, the marathon director.

"We are thrilled with the numbers of people who are coming out to help us commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the United States Air Force," she said prior to the race.

Besides the full and half marathons, the Air Force Marathon offered four-person relay races and a 5K Race. A wheelchair race was also available.

This year's marathon was one of the Air Force's major public events in a year when the service is commemorating its 60th Anniversary.

Another new development aimed at lifting the morale of runners this year was a change to the marathon course. The 26.2 mile course started at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, but new changes allowed the public to cheer on the runners through stretches of downtown Fairborn, which is next to the base. Previously, the marathon course was on base and did not accommodate public spectators.

Other features the marathon continued to offer this year were an Air Force aircraft flyover and senior officers presenting medals to the finishers.