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Race series combines heritage, fitness

Posted 10/14/2011   Updated 10/14/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


10/14/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Maxwell will kick off the second annual "Heritage of Air Power" race series with the Spaatz Five-Miler Nov. 4. The second race, a 15k run, will be held in April.

The first race, a five-mile course, starts and ends in front of the Wright Flyer at Air University's Academic Circle. The course will include history on the race's namesake, said Lt. Col. Helen Yu, operations officer at Air Command and Staff College and the leader of the race series.

"This year, the HAP Race Series consists of two races that build in distance. The acronym of the race series, HAP, is for General Hap Arnold, who is known as the father of the Air Force and was the Air Force's only five-star general," she said.

"Each race is based on an iconic Airman and will include storyboards at the start/finish area and along the race course about the Airman being celebrated."

The race series works to bring a blend of health and history, according to Yu. "Though the race series name stays the same, each race is dedicated to a different, iconic Airman every year," she said. "As such, while the races are designed to build camaraderie and physical fitness, it also raises awareness of Air Force heritage."

The first race, the Spaatz Five-Miler, is named for Gen. Carl A. Spaatz, the top American air commander of WWII and the first chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.

The second race is a 15K and is named for Gen. George T. Kenney, commander of the Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific and the U.S. Far East Air Force, and the first commander of Strategic Air Command, Yu said.

Yu said she hopes the races will not only promote Air Force heritage but also will get people excited about fitness.

"The longer distances complement the monthly 5Ks also conducted by 42nd Force Support Squadron by providing an incentive to maintain cardiovascular fitness throughout the year, especially since the new Air Force fitness standards put more emphasis on the 1.5-mile component and waist measurement," she said.

The race also is an opportunity for Airmen to interact with one another outside of a working environment, according to Maj. Travis Pond, a student at ACSC and volunteer for the event.

"The HAP Series is a great opportunity for Airmen to participate in an athletic event that is free, will contribute to their overall health and fitness, and allow them the opportunity to interact with their peers, co-workers and the local community," he said.

Pond said while there have been challenges in planning the race series, the support from the base has been astounding. All the challenges are worth it, though, when people are out there running, he noted.

"Logistics and organization can be a challenge. The 42nd FSS has been key to our planning efforts," Pond said. "Offering a free running event to the base and seeing folks participate that don't typically get out and run is rewarding. Hopefully, the race will spur a few participants to begin a regular running routine and participate in other events in the local area."



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