News: Alaska Guardsmen compete in Lincoln National Guard Marathon
Story by Sgt. Balinda O'Neal
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Four Alaska National Guardsmen are competing in the Lincoln National Guard Marathon May 4 in Lincoln, Neb., running 26.2 miles alongside National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from across the nation.
The guardsmen, Capt. Shane Garling and Lt. Kristine Laughlin-Hall, 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard; Command Sgt. Maj. Marc Petersen, 38th Troop Command, Alaska Army National Guard; and Staff Sgt. Thera Scarber, 168th Wing, AKANG, were selected based on running time to represent the Alaska National Guard as part of the AKNG Marathon Team.
Registration for the renowned race was limited to 12,500 participants and sold out in less than 12 hours. Scarber attributes the National Guard family to making this annual event such a success.
“The National Guard is like a family, not only statewide but nationwide, said Scarber. “So to take a sport such as marathon running, and compiling members from throughout the organization to share in the experience of something that we all love and relate to, is what I think makes this marathon so special.”
Scarber, the rookie of the team, will complete her 4th marathon this weekend and her first as part of the AKNG Marathon Team. The full-time jet mechanic and mother of three boys was inspired to run marathons after working with friends of the four-legged type.
“All winter I train and run sled dogs, said Scarber. “They are such amazing athletes and inspire me to increase my own athletic abilities.”
“My ultimate goal is to not only finish the Lincoln Marathon, but finish with a personal record,” Scarber added.
For Garling, the team captain and most seasoned runner, the Lincoln finish line will mark the completion of his 90th marathon.
“This is the marathon to qualify for the All-Guard Marathon Team, said Garling, “as well as seeing how you stack up against other National Guard runners.”
The top 45 male and 15 female finishers of the National Guard marathon typically make the team.
Aside from physical fitness and esprit de corps, the marathon acts as a recruiting tool for the National Guard.
“It’s not only promoting health and fitness and excelling above your service’s physical fitness standards, it’s also tied in with recruiting,” said Petersen. “It helps promote the National Guard.”
Petersen, who refers to himself as the medium runner on the team, enjoys the opportunity he is afforded through this experience to tell others about the Alaska National Guard.
“They put us to work down there, aside from running 26.2 miles,” said Petersen. “They have an expo just like you would see at any race with a National Guard booth.”
Each state is authorized one team comprised of Army and Air National Guardsmen to compete in the Lincoln National Guard Marathon. The participants must have competed in a qualifying race in a certain time limit in a category based on age and gender.
With the Lincoln National Guard Marathon on the horizon, the team shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. After completing marathons in all 50 states, Garling’s new goal is to run one in all seven continents by 2020.