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Running Dedication

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- Although running is a required portion of the Air Force Physical Fitness Test, three Airmen from the 129th Mission Support Group have gone above and beyond their basic requirement and successfully participated in more than five dozen runs around the nation.

With more than 700 collective miles ran, Master Sgts. Ronald Blancas, Jennifer Hess, and Tarquin Inman are inspirational servicemembers who continue to push their cardiovascular and muscular endurance and strive for success.

Blancas, the installation personnel readiness manager assigned to the 129th Force Support Flight, started running track in middle school following the footsteps of his dad, who was also an active runner.

As an experienced runner he has participated in two ultra-marathons, 15 marathons, to include the exclusive Boston Marathon, and a variety of races from 5K to half marathons.

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious runs. It has distinguished itself as the utmost road racing sporting event based on its traditions, longevity, qualification requirement, and invitational entry.

Traditional marathons are 26.2 miles in length; ultra-marathons are commonly 31 or 100 miles. 5K runs, approximately three miles in length, and 10K runs, slightly more than six miles, are the most common and popular distances for participants.

Hess, the base education and training manager assigned to the 129th FSF, started running in July of 2008 with a goal to run a 5K. Since then she's completed seven half-marathons, two mud-runs, three sprint-triathlons, two 15K runs, and countless 5K and 10K runs.

Triathlons customarily consist of three continuous and sequential endurance phases; swimming, cycling and running. The Ironman, the most recognized ultra-distance triathlon involves a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon distance 26.2 mile run. Sprint triathlons are shortened competitions consisting of a 0.47 mile swim, a 12 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run.

Hess had extensive surgery in May of that year and decided to start running as a tactic to prove to herself that she was still healthy, she said.

"Camaraderie amongst runners is great," she said after completing her first 5K run as a member of the Ohio Air National Guard. "I was struggling and another Guard member came up, cheered me on and ran with me for a while to get me motivated."

"I decided that I would run the half [marathon] the following year," she added.

Inman, a fuels craftsman assigned to the 129th Logistics Readiness Squadron, began running after enlisting in the Air Force and has since completed approximately 10 to 15 runs a year.

As a dedicated runner, Inman has already completed three half-marathons this year and is scheduled for his fourth the first weekend of March.

"I really enjoy trail runs," he said. "I do more of those now, I like being outside in nature."

Trail runs consist of running and hiking over unpaved trails in mountainous terrain, there are larger ascends and descends, similar to cross country running.

"I do something every day," Inman said. "This year I'm going to do a half marathon every month for training."

Inman is currently training to compete in an "Ironman 70.3," a triathlon which includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run, in Oceanside, Calif. at the end of March and another Ironman in July.

"About a year ago a friend of mine talked to me about the 350 triathlons he's done," Inman said. "I got hooked on it; that's my main focus."

With more than 40 collective years of running experience between them, motivation and training still play a key role in their running lifestyle.

"My wife and three children cheering me on at the finish line motivate me to train and run harder," Blancas said.

"I will run for chocolate," Hess jokingly admits. "I also like the way I feel after a good workout."

"Not only are there physical changes, working out benefits your mind and energy level," she said.

"I really enjoy seeing what we're capable of doing as human beings," Inman said. "I like pushing myself to the limit; otherwise I don't know what I'm capable of."

In addition to running, the master sergeants weight train and condition to build muscle strength and toughen their core. Inman also runs with his 14-year-old daughter, whose been running cross country and track for about three years, whenever he gets a chance.

Inman, Hess and Blancas are planning to run segments of the Air Force Marathon Sept. 21 at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.

"I encourage everyone to participate in the Air Force marathon once in their career," Inman said. "I've ran it twice and it's by far my favorite. There's a great ambiance with flyovers and people cheering, it's just a great experience."