Last year the United States had more than 625 marathons that took place. With more and more interest in getting fit and accomplishing a 26.2 mile race, marathons are steadily increasing every year, and the Air Force is no different. The 2011 U.S. Air Force Marathon took place Sept. 17 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
With prior marathons under his belt and consistent times, Team Hill member Master Sgt. Thomas Smith, non-commissioned officer in charge of Honor Guard, was selected as a participant for the Air Force Materiel Command team.
Smith has participated in the 2008 Salt Lake City Marathon, the Denver Marathon a couple of times and has done a few half marathons.
When it comes to his love of marathons, Smith is not alone.
According to www.runningusa.org, since 1980 to present time, there has been a 255 percent increase in the number of U.S. marathon finishers. The total numbers went from 143,000 to 507,000. Just last year alone, the U.S. had its second largest increase in the past 25 years with an 8.6 percent growth.
While the desire to run a marathon might come quickly, the preparation for one does not.
Running a marathon does not just happen overnight. Preparation for the big day takes months of training to ensure finishing the race. Smith prepared extensively for the Air Force Marathon by not only running, but also other exercises as well.
Smith said he started a 16-week running cycle where he would switch up his running techniques between speed work, hills, long runs and intervals.
"I ran three to four times a week, which put me at about 30 to 35 miles weekly, and then would do cross fit, weightlifting and plyometrics workouts," said Smith.
Smith said this is the largest marathon he has competed in and he is looking forward to the atmosphere of being at that base and the involvement of leadership.
"I'm looking forward to doing something that I love and also being involved in such a great event that is part of the Air Force heritage," said Smith.
With fitness being a very high priority in the Air Force, Smith has set a great example for his Airmen.
"Master Sgt. Smith is a great leader, especially when it comes to PT," said Senior Airman Allen Greenhill, member of Honor Guard. "We do a lot of cross fit in Honor Guard and he always keeps us motivated and exemplifies the PT standards."
All of Smith's training paid off.
With a finishing time of 3 hours 48 minutes, Smith's running performance was 28 minutes faster than the 2010 national median finishing times for men.
This year the Air Force Marathon was no exception to the nation's rising interest for this historic running event.
With a record high of 13,000 runners, the Air Force marathon had athletes from every state and 15 countries, as well as more than 3,100 people participating in the run from eight deployed locations.
The event started and finished on the grounds of Wright State University and the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio.
For more information on the USAF Marathon or to register for next year's event, visit www.usafmarathon.com.