By Scott Prater
The recently completed running course near the housing area may be new for most runners at Schriever, but it was old hat for Aaron Pinson, who won his first event on base and set a personal-best time, as he led from start to finish in the St. Patty’s Day 5K Run here March 20.
On a calm, cool, overcast morning, 120 runners hit the starting line just east of the fitness center. On tap for all lay a new course, which took runners due east toward the base’s new housing area, stopped at the perimeter fence to the restricted area and doubled back on itself.
Pinson’s familiarity with the course didn’t hurt.
“I run out here all the time so I’ve already been on this trail,” Pinson said. “Once you get past the initial pavement, it’s smooth out there on the dirt. The hardest part for me was the last 100 yards because you’ve already run 3 miles and then you finish on pavement up a hill that doesn’t look so steep but really challenges you at the finish.”
His only strategy was to start fast and keep everyone else behind him. He crossed the finish line in 18 minutes, 43 seconds. Jim Lee took runner up honors, 19 seconds back and Adam Marsh grabbed third place in 19:52.
“This was my first race this year and really I just wanted to finish under 20 minutes, so I’m pretty happy with the time.”
Pinson represented Schriever at the Air Force Marathon in 2008, where he ran the 10K race. He said he’s determined to run the full marathon this year, so the St. Patty’s Day run was a planned part of his preparation training.
“Really, it’s just about increasing mileage,” he said. “I’m already running more miles per week than I did during my peak training last year. I figure I can keep raising the mileage count to gain endurance and try not to hurt myself.”
Caitlyn Diffley also used the run as part of her training regimen for events later in the year. The Air Force Marathon veteran plans to not only run the event again this year, but will add the Marine Corps Marathon to her list to-do list as well. Plus, she’ll run a series of three triathlons this summer.
Diffley won the women’s category in dominating fashion, finishing in 23:37. Katie Boeing took second in 25:52 and Rebecca Casey claimed third place in 27:12.
“I haven’t run much this year, so 23:37 is a lot quicker than I expected,” Diffley said. “I’ve started crossfit endurance training, which is different for me, but I ran a lot faster today so I’m going to keep it up.”
Diffley reacted with awe at the sheer number of runners who showed up to participate.
“I’ve raced in events with 12 other people before, so to see this many was really exciting,” she said. “The fitness center has so many great events and they’re always so organized.”
Fitness center director Seth Cannello figured the crowd of 120 didn’t set a record for a Schriever event, but definitely ranked as one the largest.
“I think some of the squadrons were trying to gain commander’s cup points so they brought a lot of people out,” Cannello said. “Several people said the course was hard and different, which is good. People definitely get tired of running the same routes, so we’re pleased with the choice of the course.”