News: ND places two on All-Guard Marathon Team
LINCOLN, Neb. - Seven North Dakota National Guard marathon runners completed the 35th Annual Lincoln National Guard Marathon May 6 in Nebraska. The race serves as the qualifying event for the prestigious All-Guard Marathon Team.
Two members of the North Dakota team finished with qualifying times fast enough to earn them a place on the elite National Guard team of marathon runners. It's the first time in history that North Dakota has had more than a single runner qualify for the elite team.
Both Capt. Jerod Tufte, of Bismarck, N.D., and Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson, of West Fargo, N.D., ran the marathon fast enough to make the National Guard Marathon Team, from a field of 216 Army and Air National Guard runners from 44 states and two territories. It is the first time for Tufte and the second year in row making the team for Wieser Willson, which is the first time a female from North Dakota has made the team twice in two years.
"I am extremely proud of the North Dakota runners. They came ready to run their best, and certainly gave it all they had," said Lt. Col. David Skalicky, the North Dakota National Guard Marathon Team coach.
Tufte ran the 26.2-mile marathon in 3 hours, 12 minutes, while Wieser Willson's time was 3 hours, 37 minutes, in grueling conditions, including 85 percent humidity at the start of the race and challenging hills throughout the course. Wieser Willson's time pushed her to a third-place trophy for her age group of National Guard runners.
Out of all of the Army and Air National Guard members across the United States, only 40 men and 15 women qualify to represent the Guard at a national level in marathon competitions as part of the All-Guard Marathon Team.
Under the best of conditions, marathon running is an individual kind of self-imposed hell, but it was apparent that all of the runners shared camaraderie and inspirational support for each other despite the competition to make the National Guard team as they constantly encouraged each other throughout the race day.
The first challenge is just to finish the intimidating 26.2-mile distance, next is to PR (set a personal record), and then the best runners race to make the team, win their age category, or the overall race. Both Tufte and 1st Lt. Robert Meland, of Bismarck, N.D., managed to set PRs despite the heat and humidity.
All of the National Guard runners have a race finishing time in mind, before and during the race, and the standard for the All-Guard Team is generally around 3 hours, 7 minutes for the men, and 3 hours, 53 minutes for the women.
The time was adjusted slightly this year because of the difficult conditions.
The North Dakota team consists of Tufte, Wieser Willson, Meland, Capt. Andrew Wetzel, of Grassy Butte, N.D., Capt. Janet Masseth, of Bismarck, N.D., Staff Sgt. Adam Krueger, of Moorhead, Minn., and Staff Sgt. Brekka Carlson, of Bismarck, N.D. They are coached and supported by Skalicky, of Bismarck, N.D.
The seven runners had to meet a minimum qualifying time to make the North Dakota National Guard Marathon Team just to have the privilege of running in the qualifying event for the All-Guard Marathon Team.
The North Dakota marathon team is made up of experienced runners who have completed more than 50 marathons between them, with only Krueger coming from the North Dakota Air National Guard and the rest of the team coming from the North Dakota Army National Guard.
Meland, who ran the marathon in 3 hours, 28 minutes, spoke for the team as he crossed the finish line and said, "It was a great race. I laid it all out there - that's what we do."