By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Dehydration, fatigue and pain are just a few of the obstacles that marathon runners have to endure just to reach the finish-line — let alone cross it — with a time that garners a medal.
But that is just what 2nd Lt. Sarah Auer did. Running in only her second marathon, Auer clinched first place in her category at this year’s Air Force Marathon held at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 21.
“I really didn’t start feeling the pain until the last mile or two,” said Auer, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron operations facility engineer. “Two miles is nothing when you are running 26, just push through and try to pick-up the pace.”
Auer captured first place in the full marathon for active-duty females after completing 26.2 miles with a time of 3:04:53. This was just a mere nine seconds off of the overall female finisher, Michelle Farr who finished with a time of 3:04:44.
“They merged the half-marathon and full-marathon in the chute (final mile to finish line), it was a large crowd of people and I couldn’t tell who was running which marathon,” said Auer when asked about the tight finish.
Running is nothing new for Auer, who began running in high school in her home state of Oregon.
“It was something that I really enjoyed and I wanted to keep running in college,” said Auer. “My dad was military and he suggested that I look into it. ROTC (reserve officer training corps) was a chance for me to go to the school I wanted with the degree program I wanted to take.”
Auer attended the University of Portland and was able to join the cross country and track team as a “walk-on” while majoring in civil engineering.
“I ran there (University of Portland) for four years and learned a lot,” said Auer. “While in school, our coaches did not want us running marathons because of the long recovery time that is needed for your body. I told myself, after I graduated, I would do a marathon just to see what I could do. So, I signed up for the Colorado Marathon.”
Running a marathon is not only physically challenging, it also tests runners’ mental toughness as Auer found out during her first marathon attempt.
“I went out a little bit too hard, it was painful, but I was just happy to finish it. I definitely learned a lot about running a marathon,” said Auer.
After running a 21k event at Peterson, Auer was invited to join the Headquarters Air Force Space Command team to represent them in the full marathon.
“It is a humbling experience — it is awesome to be a part of something that is so much bigger than me,” said Auer. “Being able to compete in these races requires a lot of commander support — that is something that I was very fortunate to have.”
With the Air Force putting more and more focus on fitness and readiness, officers like Auer are setting a great example of self-discipline and preparedness.
“It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s not just about going and working out, eating right, taking the stairs instead of the elevator,” said Auer. “You have to put forth the effort, take it one day at a time and don’t get frustrated.”
With regard to any special preparation for the event, Auer said “No, just another day.”
For more information about the Air Force Marathon, visit http://www.usafmarathon.com/