Running builds esprit de corps, fitness
Squadron Officer School runners prepare for the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham Feb. 10-12. Taking time out for fitness has promoted camaraderie among the Airmen. (Courtesy photo)
Running builds esprit de corps, fitness



by Lt. Col. Heather McGee
Commander, 34th Student Squadron, Squadron Officer College


2/17/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Air Force was well represented at the Birmingham Mercedes Marathon this past weekend. About 40 members of the 34th Student Squadron from Squadron Officer School at Maxwell participated in the marathon and half marathon to promote health and fitness awareness.

The 34th Student Squadron prides itself on its dedication to health and wellness as a daily part of life. About a year and half ago, the squadron began hosting weekly commander "fun" runs for students at 5 a.m. every Friday.

The initial expectation is that no students would show up to run for no good reason that early in the morning. Well, they did show up. Each week, anywhere from 5 to 25 of the 100-plus students in the squadron, plus some dedicated instructors, come out - rain, shine and even in the cold -- to run a seven-mile route around Maxwell Air Force Base. The pace is moderate, and it provides the students time to chat with the commander about whatever is on their minds, as well as a chance to build esprit de corps among the student body.

A few weeks ago, some of the regular squadron runners heard about the Mercedes Marathon and jumped on the chance to participate. Word spread through the squadron, and soon about 40 students were in line to sign up for the race. Although most were committed to completing the half marathon - to include one instructor who has never ran more than 5 miles and one student who is set to run the Boston Marathon in April -- some just decided to go for broke and run the full marathon. The goal for everyone is to just finish, have a great time, and enjoy some great Alabama barbecue and camaraderie after the race.

The 34th Student Squadron hopes that this year's effort will set a great precedent within Squadron Officer School. Look for more students heading up next year to support the city of Birmingham and the Mercedes Marathon in their effort to raise money for local charities.

Squadron Officer School is the Air Force's premier resident education program for junior officers. About 3,200 officers are selected to attend this challenging eight-week residence program each year. The school's mission is to develop company grade officers as leaders of integrity ready to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace.

The dedicated faculty of more than 100 at SOS delivers a diverse student curriculum, with courses focused on leadership, communication, warfare, international security studies and profession of arms. Students are also required to maintain a high level of fitness, and participate in a variety of group and individual physical fitness events over the duration of the course.