CGOs complete original long-distance race

(From left) U.S. Air Force Capts. Rachel Weiler, Michelle Harrington, and 2nd Lt. Haley Janssen, all officers assigned to the 86th Maintenance Group, pose for a photo in front of a C-130J Super Hercules propeller at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Jan. 6, 2017. The three company-grade officers recently completed their first marathon last November, in Athens, Greece, the location of the very first marathon ever ran. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Bass)

(From left) U.S. Air Force Capts. Rachel Weiler, Michelle Harrington, and 2nd Lt. Haley Janssen, all officers assigned to the 86th Maintenance Group, pose for a photo in front of a C-130J Super Hercules propeller at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Jan. 6, 2017. The three company-grade officers recently completed their first marathon last November, in Athens, Greece, the location of the very first marathon ever ran. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Bass)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Some say that running is a hobby. For others, it’s a passion. For a good portion of people, it’s simply a means to an end…pass their physical training test.

It’s worth a guess that even those who only run to pass their PT test have dreamt of crossing the finish line after running 26.2 miles. All three female company-grade officers from the 86th Maintenance Group recently crossed that achievement off their bucket lists.

Captains Rachel Weiler and Michelle Harrington, along with 2nd Lt. Haley Janssen, all accomplished their first marathon together, Nov. 13, 2016. It’s poetic that their first marathon took place at the same location as the very first marathon -- Athens, Greece.

“I’ve always wanted to run a marathon,” said Harrington, the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “It’s been on my bucket list. I thought it was pretty fitting to run the original marathon.”

Harrington conceived the idea while deployed, and she took it upon herself to convince Weiler and Janssen.

According to legend, in 490 B.C., after the Greeks won a battle against the Persians, a messenger named Pheidippides (Feh-dip-ih-dees) ran from the battlefield at Marathon, to Athens, 26.2 miles, with word of the victory. He said, “Nike!” meaning, “Victory!” and then collapsed and died.

“(Harrington) did not fail to remind us of that,” said Weiler, 86th MXG maintenance operations officer in charge.

They’re goal was to not die, said Harrington. With the idea born, their training began.

Janssen, the 86th Maintenance Squadron maintenance flight officer in charge, explained that she joined the endeavor because the Athens marathon is the pinnacle of all marathons, and by doing this one, she wouldn’t ever have to do another.

Training with a 5K every other day, and longer runs on the weekend, Janssen and Weiler paired up to get ready, while Harrington trained by herself at her deployed location.

“We did the Ramstein Half-marathon in preparation which was good because you go up and down hills,” said Weiler.

The team traveled to Athens, their minds full of anticipation and excitement, combatting the mental stress of running the distance. Since the team was staying in Athens, they knew where the end was and that information was vital to keeping their mental state positive.

“You start in Marathon, and end in Athens,” said Weiler. “So it wasn’t like this big loop. There is a goal, at the end of that road is the finish.”

The team wasn’t ready for the hill which awaited them however.

For half the race, the team worked up a meandering hill.

“You just try to find your pace,” Weiler said. “It’s a mental game, but the hill was steeper than I ever thought it could be.”

The hill started six-and-a-half miles in, and lasted for 13 miles.

“I think at the half point for me I thought, ‘Well that really sucked, I guess I have to do that again,’” said Janssen.

Janssen added that her desire to finish before dark pushed her to finish the hill.

“There’s not a lot of training you can do for that,” said Harrington.

Once they summited though, the rest was downhill, literally.

“To finally see the stadium you had to finish strong,” said Janssen. “It was a pretty awesome feeling.”

Upon finishing, Weiler looked for her cohorts.

“The first thing I did was start looking for people,” said Weiler. “And (Harrington) was waiting so we got our medals together which I thought was really important.”

With the common goal of finishing together, their individual times didn’t matter. They weren’t done until the last one crossed the line. With this adventure crossed off their lists, a shower and a nap was as much a reward was the medals around their necks.