Lackland Air Force Base, Texas –
Kellie Courtland, 37th Training Wing, had just returned from leave in San Francisco when she started working toward a new mission.
She will be representing Lackland AFB and Air Education and Training Command at the 11th Annual Air Force Marathon set for Sept. 17 at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Courtland will be participating in the team relay marathon event. She was chosen to be one of four members on the relay team by the AETC.
"I love seeing the Air Force at its best," said Courtland. "What's really neat is that the marathon always coincides with the Air Force anniversary and my Air Force anniversary is the same as the Air Force's, so it's always like a culmination of another year for me."
The relay marathon will take place on the same course as the free form marathon. Four runners will be dividing the 26.2- mile distance over four legs. If for some reason a relay member fails to show up, another member of the team is permitted to run an extra leg of the race, so long as the legs are consecutive.
"I think it will be a blast," Courtland said. "The AETC relay team has already started planning a course of strategy for the race."
Courtland will be joined by Kristi Contardo from Columbus AFB, Miss., Jennifer Lepper, from Keesler AFB, Miss., and Saskia Johnson from Maxwell AFB, Ala.
"I'm hoping to run the last leg of the race," said Courtland. "Hills are my strength and that is the part of the race with the most hills. I just finished running a half marathon in San Francisco. We had to run over the Golden Gate Bridge and the city is naturally very hilly."
If Courtland does run the fourth leg of the marathon, she will run the second longest leg of the race, with a distance of 6.7 miles.
The first leg is the shortest, coming in at 5.2 miles, while the second leg is the longest, coming in at 8 miles. The third leg is 6.3 miles long.
Courtland's best half marathon time is 2 hours and two minutes and her best full marathon time is right around the 4 1/2-hour mark.
This will be Courtland's fifth trip to the Air Force Marathon.
"I've run enough marathons to now how to train well," she said. "I'm going to look at the course and try to identify the specific demands for that course. For this particular marathon, I'll do a lot more training on hills. I'll also spend less time working on distance and more time working on speed."
Courtland started running marathons eight years ago and has run 30 half or full marathons within that time frame. Many of the marathons that she runs are a means to raise money for a specific charity.
"It does get a lot easier," Courtland said. "Sometimes I'll train really hard and have a poor time or I won't train that much and I'll have my best time ever. I think it really just depends on how you feel that day, the weather and the course conditions. That's why I always run to finish and have fun."
AETC is paying for the lodging, transportation and uniforms for the relay team.
"I think it's amazing to watch people go through their struggles and watch them accomplish their goals," said Courtland. "A marathon is not something you can train for overnight. And it always turns out that every runner becomes a team member because you want to see everyone make it to the finish line."