Olympic Marathon hopefuls train in Turkey

  • Published
  • By U.S. Navy Cmdr. Daryl Borgquist
  • Ankara Coordination Office, Office of Defense Cooperation-Turkey
When U.S. Air Force Capt. Benjamin Sandy and his wife Angie ran the half-marathon event at the 2010 U.S. Air Force Marathon, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, recently, the results were impressive. Out of 4,302 participants, Capt. Sandy finished in 1:12:15 hours: placing 6th overall, 6th for men and 1st in the 35-39 men's age group. Meanwhile, Angie finished in 1:22:45: placing 27th overall, 3rd for women and 3rd in the 30-34 women's age group.

"Running is our passion," Capt. Sandy said. "Since we are aiming to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials, we try to live an elite runner's lifestyle daily."

Assigned to the Office of Defense Cooperation-Turkey in Ankara, Turkey, as the chief of international training, Capt. Sandy and Angie are now on track to qualify to run the marathon in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Houston.

"Training to be an elite athlete is quite a feat," said Maj. Gen. Stanley Clarke III, U.S. defense attaché and senior defense official in Turkey. "All of us at ODC-Turkey fully support their efforts and are incredibly proud of their determination and endurance."

A Newcastle, Wyoming, native, who ran track in high school and at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, Capt. Sandy ran the Air Force Marathon as part of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe team.

"Traveling back to the States to represent the U.S. Air Force in the half marathon, alongside other teammates competing from Europe, was an honor," he said. "I met many new Air Force members and had a chance to exchange training ideas, places to train overseas, and words of encouragement on race day."

Overall, the Sandys maintain an arduous training regimen - running more than 65 miles a week by incorporating a combination of intervals, recovery runs and tempo runs. To make the U.S. Olympic team, Capt. Sandy must run a full marathon (26.2 miles) in 2:19 hours or better, while Angie must run it in 2:46 hours.

"If anyone has ever thought of running a half or full marathon, they should seek training advice, set goals, and train consistently," Capt. Sandy advised.

To date, Capt. Sandy's personal best is 2:24 hours - which he ran in college. In April, Angie ran the Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands with a time of 2:50 hours.

"Living, training, and racing overseas has provided me with opportunities I never imagined possible," she said. "Being able to train with Ben and watch him balance a full running and work schedule is inspiring and leaves me no room for excuses."

Running does have its perks. When Angie placed 3rd in the Antalya Half Marathon in March, she won an all-expense paid week vacation in Turkey - which the couple plan to enjoy this fall. No doubt, they'll fit in some running.

"Running is an individual sport," concluded Capt. Sandy. "No matter how fast you run, anyone can complete a half marathon or marathon. With the proper training and attitude, you'll surprise yourself on race day."