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    Leah Daugherty wins women's division of Mount Fuji Ascent Race, talks about running



    Story by Pfc. David Walters 

    Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Sweating, arms pumping, and the sight of an untouched finish line closer than 20 feet away, Leah Daugherty is focused on concluding the Mount Fuji Ascent race in Japan, July 26, 2013.

    Leah Daugherty admits that her gift of running is a blessing, but also with that gift, she put forth hard work and dedication that led to life changing experiences.

    Growing up, Leah Daugherty was influenced to run by her father, but wasn’t quite sure if running was a sport she wanted to pursue.

    “My dad was a Division One miler, so from a young age he started teaching me how to run,” said Leah Daugherty. “When I was younger, I was intimidated by running, but I was always good at it. I played primarily ball sports throughout high school.”

    Leah Daugherty began running again in a club triathlon team in college while attending University of Colorado, where she met her husband, Capt. Matthew Daugherty, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 F/A-18 pilot, and eventually led her to becoming a professional triathlete.

    Leah and Matthew Daugherty are both avid runners, have a love for the sport and show each other support by running together.

    Through Matthew Daugherty’s eyes, running has helped his marriage grow in the best way imaginable.

    “We are able to share that time together,” said Matthew Daugherty. “We spend so much time doing it, that if one of us didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t spend any time together. Being able to experience the places, views, smells and sounds that you can (while) mountain trail running wouldn’t be the same without the love of your life there to experience it with you. I have learned that it’s generally not a good idea to say things like: ‘come on’ or ‘why are you going so slow’ ... These kinds of comments while running are generally bad for the marriage.”

    Matthew Daugherty spoke about the beauty of his wife winning races.

    “Her smile when she wins could light up the darkest night,” said Matthew Daugherty.

    Leah Daugherty experienced her ups and downs through the life of a professional triathlete that brought her to a decision that caused her profession to change.

    “I competed for a couple of years,” said Leah Daugherty. “Running is what I’ve always loved, what I’m best at and what I enjoy the most. While I was doing triathlon, I just over trained and did some wrong things with my training. Nothing bad, but I was just not having fun, so I got burnt out. I stopped doing triathlons professionally and just turned back to running, and I’ve really been enjoying running the past two years a lot.”

    Leah Daugherty accomplished many achievements in her past that motivate her to keep running in order to beat her current personal records and push herself to run longer, and more difficult distances.

    Leah Daugherty’s most memorable past-time runs include: two 50-mile races, otherwise known as an Ultra-Marathon, one of which followed along the continental divide in Colorado and the Mount Fuji Ascent Race.

    Leah Daugherty stated she has short, medium and long term goals for her running and is willing to put forth the effort to achieve them.

    “Next year there are several races I want to compete in,” said Leah Daugherty. “Then a midterm goal, I would like to run in the U.S. Olympic Trials Road Marathon, so that’s in probably about three years ... My long term goal, I want to be running when I’m in my 60’s and 70’s and enjoying it and healthy.”

    Even though Leah Daugherty has no plans of hanging up her shoes anytime soon, she reminisces on the feelings she received during her last race when she ascended to the summit of Mount Fuji leaning forward into the cold air across the finish line to secure a first place win.

    “The Fuji ascent race was a really awesome race to win,” said Leah Daugherty. “I’ve always wanted to climb up Mount Fuji ever since I was a little kid, so to have the opportunity to run up Mount Fuji in a race, then to win that race was, “sugoi,” (which means) awesome. I felt like I was on Cloud Nine.”



    Date Taken: 08.22.2013
    Date Posted: 08.21.2013 21:40
    Story ID: 112354

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