By Kristian DePue, Staff Writer, Peterson Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
Peterson Space Force Base, Colo. — Last year, while at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Mr. Patrick Buzzard ran 51 miles in the scorching dessert heat on his 51st birthday.
“Since I turned 40, I’ve tried to do something memorable on my birthday,” says Buzzard, Delta 12, 4th Test and Evaluation Squadron deputy chief of security — a former Marine currently serving the U.S. Space Force as a civilian.
While working with NASA in Russia, he turned 40 and decided to pick up running again by entering into the Moscow Marathon. Buzzard has run off-and-on most of his life. He competed in track and cross country in high school, but eventually got away from it. However, when he was preparing to join the Marines, he started running again.
Most recently, Buzzard and several colleagues within the 4 TES participated in the annual Falcon 50 Race Series hosted by the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The Falcon 50 offers scenic challenges that take participants through the beautiful and rugged terrain of the academy. The route is primarily dirt trails, but includes sections where runners have the choice to run on a sectioned-off portion of paved roads or on the road shoulders.
This event has grown since its founding in 2011, and now has five races each with different distances and options: Half-Marathon, Military Half-Heavy, Marathon, Military Heavy and 50 Miler.
“I participated in the half marathon and tried to train by running two to three miles, three times a week — with the plan to work up to a six-mile training,” says Buzzard’s teammate, Rommel Villalobos, 4 TES space systems engineer. “Unfortunately, my busy schedule kept me from that goal, so I came into the event less prepared than I wanted.”
U.S. Space Force Capt. Johnny Inlavong, 4 TES test lead, special projects, who also ran the half marathon echoes Villalobos’ sentiment: “I feel like I should have trained a little more but ultimately was not able to find the time to put in the long-distance runs.”
To train, Inlavong worked out on treadmills or jogged the hills at Cottonwood Creek Park with his dog.
“We had a great time with awesome weather and a positive race-day environment,” says Buzzard, reflecting on that April day. “I appreciate the team’s participation, and I want shout out Lt. Col. McGrath, Maj. Gilligan, Capt. Inlavong, Lt. Efejuku, Rom Villalobos, Travis Cole — and also to Robert Vallelunga and MSgt. Azore who signed up and trained but had injuries that kept them out this year.”
With a positive race day attitude, Villalobos states that finishing was a joy: “I found it challenging since that was the longest distance I had ever tried, but ultimately, I found that finishing was the greatest joy. I saw a lot of cadets and other competitors pushing themselves as they ran the 50-mile race or competed in the heavy marathon or the half heavy. Kudos to all those that finished those events. I can’t imagine the mental and physical strain they put themselves through. It turned out to be harder than originally imagined, but well worth the fight.”