By Halle Thornton
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Two Schriever Airmen were selected to compete in the 2018 United States Air Force marathon Sept. 15 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
The first official marathon was Sept. 20, 1997, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Air Force, and is now held the third Saturday in September each year.
The course travels throughout the base, and runners pass the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Air Force Institute of Technology, Headquarters Air Force Material Command, the flight line and the Wright Brothers Memorial Monument.
The course is certified by the USA Track and Field Association and is a Boston Marathon Qualifier.
The following major commands will represent in the race: Air Combat Command, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, AFMC, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Force Space Command, Air Mobility Command, United States Air Forces in Europe and Pacific Air Forces.
The marathon consists of 10-person teams, comprised of three males and one female for the full marathon division, and four males and two females for the half marathon.
First time AF marathon runner 1st Lt. Veronica Leddy, chief of operations engineering with the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron, applied for the event after Seth Cannello, fitness center director with the 50th Force Support Squadron, suggested she give it a try.
Leddy completed the required paperwork in March, which asked for past running experience and times, and in the beginning of June, she made the half marathon team.
“When I found out I was selected, I was nervous because it’s going to come at a crazy time because I’m leaving Schriever, but I was mostly excited,” she said.
Leddy praised 1st Lt. Nicholas Ruiz, executive officer with the 50th Mission Support Group and fellow AF marathon selectee, for his support and enthusiasm when it came to the process.
“He has looked out for me since day one,” she said. “He’s walked me through this whole process and really encouraged me to apply.”
Ruiz was elated when he found out Leddy qualified for the team.
“I was happier for her than for me that she got picked up,” he said. “I’m just happy she is going to experience the event.”
Additionally, Leddy thanked Cannello and the fitness center for their support.
“I’m very grateful to the fitness center for showing me these opportunities,” she said.
Ruiz participated in the AF half marathon last year, and is excited to make an appearance again this year in the half.
“The race last year was awesome,” he said. “I’ve never ran around that many people in my life. It was incredible. I felt like while I was running hard, I was also absorbing everything around me.”
Ruiz thanked the AF event staff and volunteers for hosting the event, and is excited to return.
“They did a phenomenal job with the setup,” he said. “One of the coolest parts was having people throughout the course, who don’t know you, cheer you on.”
While Ruiz is thankful just to be able to participate in the marathon, he hopes to break his personal record and win for the AFSPC.
“We placed third out of 12 teams last year,” he said. “That was the first time AFSPC medaled. We were 22 minutes away from first, so I want to beat that this year.”
Leddy is also determined to run her fastest time, and push herself like never before.
“Competing in this race and representing the MAJCOM will motivate me to run farther than I usually do,” she said. “I have to step it up a little bit. Hopefully, I’ll be able to run faster there than here.”
Ruiz said the atmosphere can influence their performance.
“It gives you inspiration being around other runners,” he said. “You have someone yelling for you the whole time, and you’re representing something bigger than yourself.”
Leddy looks forward to running in a race with more than 8,000 people.
“This event is really big,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this.”
“To anyone who is thinking about it, just go try one,” he said. “The first step is to sign up. It validates your efforts, it’s really cool to be acknowledged, and all your training pays off.”