Air National Guard marathon team runs strong at Air Force Marathon
By Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson, 121 Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 21, 2016
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The sacrifices of the Air National Guard marathon team may finally pay off in 2016. Their stellar performance in the Air Force Marathon and half-marathon may have captured the coveted MAJCOM [major command] Challenge trophy.
Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, team manager, has worked toward this goal for four years now. With his four marathon team members finishing in the top 20, and five out of six half-marathon runners in the top 25, he probably reached it.
"The individuals on this team come from all across the country," said Walden. "They are dedicated to show their support for the ANG and to proudly show the spirit of guardsmen across the land."
Unlike the rest of the MAJCOM competitors, the ANG team is not funded; the members paid their own entry fees, airfare and lodging.
Staff Sgt. Emily Shertzer, an instrumentalist with the 553rd Air Force Band, Pennsylvania, won the women's half-marathon with a time of 1:22:40.
"It's exciting to compete with fellow ANG runners and fun to do so well against the active duty athletes," said Shertzer.
Another trophy winner for the team was Chief Master Sgt. Eric Schuffert, a Production Superintendent from Alabama, who was the first military male finisher in the half-marathon.
The other half-marathon runners were: Lt. Col. Kim Riggs, Alaska; 1st. Lt. Cody Bohachek, Indiana; Tech. Sgt. Travis Kallay, Wisconsin; Tech Sgt. Jonathan Peck, New York.
2nd Lt. Annalise Rowe, a security forces operations officer from Idaho, led the full marathon crew with a fourth place finish for female overall and a second place female military.
"Running with the Air National Guard team for the MAJCOM Challenge makes you push yourself that much more," said Rowe. "It's not just you who you're running for-It's your team of ten service members from across the nation, the Chief who tirelessly organizes it, your base supporting you back in your home state, your husband and family who have to put up with your endless hours of training, and every single other person who has given you a high five or word of encouragement along the way."
Col. Christian Stewart, state air surgeon from Kentucky, powered through the marathon at a blistering 6:48 minute per mile pace to take 7th place overall and 4th place military males. The marathon team also included Tech Sgt. Matthew Klundt from California, and Staff Sgt. James Munnis of West Virginia.
The ANG marathon team has thrived under Walden's leadership. They finished last four years ago, eighth three years ago, and second last year. The second place finish was only by a margin of five minutes. According to Walden's preliminary calculations, this year's team beat that time by an hour.
"I can't be any prouder of the individuals here. It was a hot humid day and they put in everything they could to be able to finish, and finish strong." He said.
There are at least eleven ANG members who will sit on the edge of their seats until the final results of the MAJCOM Challenge are calculated and the trophy is awarded.