Dragons don't just fly, they also run

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Travis Beihl
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Since 1997, thousands of people with varying backgrounds and motivations have been inspired to travel to Dayton, Ohio to run in the annual Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

On Sept. 17, eight members of the Dragon Run Club were among those thousands to represent Team Keesler in the 5K, 10K, half and full marathon during the Air Force Marathon’s 20th anniversary.

Both seasoned and amateur runners alike made the trip to participate.

“Everyone who ran is passionate about running in one way or another,” said Tech. Sgt. Randal Hernandez, 81st Training Wing command chief executive. “We had members who had never run a full marathon, half marathon or 5K and they went out and beat their own expectations.”

The group had several members who are regular runners. Master Sgt. Jacob Overman, 2 Air Force command military training office superintendent and one of Hernandez’s teammates, took the marathon as an opportunity to share some of his experiences with the other runners.


“As a senior NCO and avid runner, I feel like my experience helped mentor the younger Airmen,” Overman said. “I believe any time you enjoy something and have a passion for it, it becomes contagious to those around you.”

That contagious desire helped pushed two runners to train for and complete their first marathon.

“We had two runners who’d never run a marathon before, and they were out there every day training physically and mentally,” said Hernandez. “Tech. Sgt. Joshua Foster, [336th Training Squadron training manager], was worried about how he would perform in the marathon but, come race time, he finished around 10 minutes behind Overman, who’s ran a marathon before and helped train him.”

A full marathon, at a rigorous 26.2 miles, can be a test for the runner’s body and mind.

“When you're running a long race, your body starts breaking down on you and your mind will tell you that you won’t make it,” said Overman. “It takes a resilient individual to push through that mental barrier and keep going.”

One Keesler competitor, Airman 1st Class Jessenia Reynoso, 81st Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, pushed through the mental and physical strain to place in her division in the 5K.

Although competing was one of the main reasons in going, the mentorship gained on both sides played a big role in both the sergeants and the airmen completing their events.

“Between all the sergeants on the trip, we had more than 50 years of Air Force experience,” said Hernandez. “Not only did we mentor some of the airmen, but they also returned the favor and taught us old crusties a few things as well.”

“The biggest thing I took away was how supportive the military and community was up at Wright Patterson,” said Overman. “It is very rewarding to complete a marathon individually, but when you run as a team with brothers and sisters in the military . . . nothing compares!”