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Airmen orchestrate full marathon in 2 weeks

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Tania Bryan
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
When 1st Lt. Jessica Lopez said she wanted to run a marathon in the desert, at night, and on a base that measures barely 5 miles across, her Air Force family said they'd be right there with her. 

From charting the course and ensuring the event was logistically equipped to providing moral support, the base brought together the resources for her and several others to complete the course. 

Lieutenant Lopez, a C-17A Globemaster III pilot stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., began participating in marathons with her mom in 2004 as a way to keep her and her mother close, even though military assignments have separated them. 

"We wanted to run the L.A. Marathon together, but because of my overseas deployment I wasn't going to be able to make it to the March 2, race," she said. "We got the idea to run it at the same time in our respective locations, my mom in Los Angeles and me in Southwest Asia." 

"When I first heard had that Lt. Lopez was going to be running a marathon at the beginning of March, I thought it would be a great event to kick-off Women's History Month," said Capt. Tracy Bunko, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Women's History Month coordinator. "But, we had a lot to do to put together an event of this size in just two weeks." 

In order to make the experience as safe as possible, project chair Capt. Meredith Ortiz coordinated with several base organizations. Beginning with the 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group's civil engineer and services squadrons, she contacted the experts to map out a course. Not wanting to provide a short, monotonous course that would have to be circled several times, they used a computer program to create the route and used GPS to ensure the route measured exactly 26.2 miles. 

The entire project was truly a base-wide effort. The call for volunteers was put out and several responded to assist with preparation, pacing and manning refreshment stops along the route, said Captain Ortiz. Additionally, the medical group and security forces squadron were alert and ready in case of an emergency. 

"It was really great having people on the road every now and then with Gatorade, oranges, and water," said the lieutenant. "That was nice, because when I first decided to do this I thought I'd be running basically by myself." 

"Putting the race together was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it," said Captain Ortiz. "When I saw the crowd of people waiting at the finish line to offer support as she finished, I was overwhelmed. The way we take care of fellow Airmen is amazing."