By Senior Airman Naomi Griego
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
“I run for others who can’t.”
This motto is what keeps 1st Lt. Charles M. Taylor, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron, motivated every day to continue to physically and mentally challenge himself through running.
Taylor’s goal is to run a tenth of what he has driven in miles with the exception of the mileage from his permanent change of station of course. That would be excessive.
He teamed up with Master Sgt. Pete Aronson, 3 SES, and Steven Foster, an Army lieutenant, to run 83 miles from Colorado Springs to Denver, Colorado, while carrying a Prisoner of War/ Missing in Action flag as a means of paying homage and raising awareness in the community.
“It was amazing,” said Aronson. “We left Wolf Ranch around 8 p.m. and started moving north through Briargate, Northgate and eventually arrived at Palmer Lake around midnight. This was about a third of our way through.”
By this point the temperature had dropped to near freezing and the trio ran in complete darkness with only the moon and stars to light their path.
Aronson recalled while running in the middle of nowhere around 1 a.m. on their journey they experienced what appeared to be a scene out of a horror movie or at the very least a creepy western film.
“Somewhere between Palmer Lake and Larkspur we passed by a man sitting in the back of his antique pickup truck in the woods playing a banjo,” said Aronson.
Needless to say, this run-in helped speed up their pace.
“We continued up through the Greenland Open Trail Space area, passed through Larkspur and eventually crossed back over to the east side of I-25,” said the 3rd SES master sgt. “I recall hitting runner’s high at this point for about eight miles and I was having the time of my life.”
Not long after, however, the trio experienced pain and their momentum slowed.
“Long distance running is unpredictable,” he added. “But, no matter how difficult it got, our goal was to complete the run together. Despite the freezing temperatures, blisters on our feet, and exhaustion we made it after about 21 hours.”
He said it was a surreal and very humbling moment.
“We ran to pay tribute to those who sacrificed so much for our country and never came home,” said Aronson. “We felt this was a great way to honor those who sacrificed everything.”
But, the pair won’t stop there. They have logged nearly 200 miles together and continue seeking opportunities to run longer distances in more austere environments. They do it for various causes with an emphasis on POW and those still MIA. Their next objective is to conquer the Divide 135 Ultra-marathon next spring.
“The challenge is putting enough miles in,” said Taylor. “Sometimes my schedule makes it difficult to fit in long runs, but I figure it out. Anyone can run. You just have to get out there.”
He said he attempts to run nearly seven to 10 miles a day to train for ultra-marathons including the Divide 135 he and Aronson are training for.
“It’s a test,” said Taylor. “It’s about physical endurance and perseverance. I do it to better myself.”
He encourages everyone to give running a try. Whether it’s a mile or 100 miles, Taylor believes everyone can do it.
“Be the example,” Taylor said. “Be the action.”
As far as goals go, neither Taylor’s nor Aronson are running short on ambition. Taylor plans on running a marathon in the North Pole, participating in the Badwater Ultra-marathon (135-mile race) and Spartathlon Ultra Race (153 miles). While Aronson hopes to complete a dozen or so 50-mile and 100-mile races next year.
According to Aronson you simply have to let go of your physical limits and push forward like your life depends on it.
“This sort of mentality in the real world is what it’s all about,” he said. “It helps you realize that anything is possible. You can become totally successful and happy in life if you put forth the effort. The momentum is incredible!”