News: Scott AFB officer reflects on winning Air Force Marathon female division
By Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - In a first-ever win, 28-year-old Capt. Sarah Thomas, a family medicine resident from the 375th Medical Group here, crossed the Air Force Marathon's 26.2 mile finish line in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 51 seconds, placing 19th overall among 13,000 runners.
"I have always been a runner, and I just love to run," said the former track star of Houston's Rice University.
She trailed the overall winner, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, 44, of West Va., by a mere five minutes, and had completed her second marathon run more than five years ago. She said she got inspired to run distance again after meeting up with 29-year-old Capt. David Bereda, a co-worker in the 375th MDG, who placed seventh with his time of 2:50:58.
"He mentioned the marathon to me in January and told me I should participate," said Thomas. "So I signed up, and we began training together. We used the event's online marathon exercises to train."
While Bereda helped with pre-race training, she found a running partner during the race who had the same pace as she did, and explained that "it's always good to run with somebody during a race especially one at this distance because it makes the time go by faster. To pass time we played games, like counting how many times someone cheered for you. It was encouraging and motivating to have someone to run with and to push each other."
While winning the gold was the proverbial "icing on the cake," she said the overall marathon experience was "really fun. There were so many people cheering for us and bands playing music ... it was great!"
The other highlight for her during the race were the frequent water or hydrating stands.
"That is really key because when you're running and trying to drink it's really hard. You either spill it on yourself or miss the cups and don't get any. So it was nice that they had stations every one to two miles to help stay hydrating while running." Thomas said she only missed a cup once.
Running that long and at that speed takes a toll and she said after the race she was "tired and cold. I tried to sit down but it hurt my legs. Once I did sit down I couldn't get up because my legs hurt. I had to have help from my husband and a nearby stranger."
After her legs recover from the AF Marathon, she plans on finding another marathon to participate in soon. She said her goal is to tailor her training for speed, and she wants to run in next year's marathon, scheduled for Sept. 15, if duty and mission allows.
The 2011 U.S. Air Force Marathon broke a number of records -- first selling out earlier than ever in June and then by lining up 13,000 runners at the starting line on the grounds of Wright State University and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Participants included those running in the marathon, a wheeled division, half-marathon, and the 10K and 5K runs.
Among the several other runners from Air Mobility Command, four individuals from Scott AFB ran well enough to qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon on April 16. The members are Capt. Sarah Thomas, Capt. David Bereda, Master Sgt. Scott Bridgeman and Chief Master Sgt. Tami Spellman.