Med Group Airmen show what they’re made of

Melanie Salazar

Three Airmen went the distance earlier this month — literally.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Wells, 27th Medical Support Squadron, 1st Lt. Curtis Murray and Senior Airman Simon Watson of the 27th Medical Operations Squadron all competed in the Palo Duro Trail Run in Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo. Lt. Murray finished 48th out of 72 people in his 7-hour, 50-kilometer race, while Amn. Watson and Sgt. Wells broke into the scene placing 8th and 9th out of 132 runners in the 20-kilometer race.
Lt. Murray, who deserted bicycle racing and picked up running when he arrived in the windy city of Clovis, found the event on the Internet and invited Sgt. Wells and Amn. Watson to join him. Having seen the two run during Physical Training before, Lt. Murray said he was confident they could hold their own against the many competitors.
“I knew this group was pretty quick,” he said.
Though Sgt. Wells and Amn. Watson had never competed in a 20-kilometer race before, their finishes proved Lt. Murray’s statement wasn’t far off.
However, although their names are in the top 10, they admitted that under different circumstances, they would have been good contenders for the top spots.
“They had already started when we got there,” Sgt. Wells said. “So we just took off running and we went about a mile in the wrong direction.”
Despite the late start and longer course, the two, who stuck by each other throughout the race, averaged a 7:33 mile.
“We kept trading which one of us ran in front,” Sgt. Wells said. “That was the hugest boost somehow.”
In his 50K however, Lt. Murray faced the hilly trail alone.
“I was pretty tired during the last lap,” he said. “I just kept going from [aid] station to station. I never stopped running though.”
Through the soreness and exhaustion, the dehydration and low blood sugar, all three said they just tried to keep their minds focused.
“I think that’s why we did so well,” Sgt. Wells said. “Your body takes you so far and then your mind kicks in.”
Amn. Watson agreed. “It’s in your head,” he said. “You’d be amazed what you can do.”
The race wasn’t all mental though. Each of the three Airmen do enough running every day to make PT look like a warm-up.
Looking from a medical perspective, Lt. Murray said he’d like to see more people as dedicated to their physical fitness as they are.
“A lot of people come in the hospital all the time,” he said. “And if they would just exercise regularly, so many ailments would go away or be prevented.”
While staying physically active is one motive behind Sgt. Wells’ decision to run — it’s not the only reason.
“I do it to keep in shape but I also do it because it’s a deterrent,” Sgt. Wells said. “It takes your mind off everything; it’s just you and the elements.”
Though this year’s PDT Run is over, the challenge for these three Airmen hasn’t even begun.
As they sat in a conference room in the medical lab, they remembered the pain in their feet and legs after the race, and couldn’t stop talking about what they wanted to do next.
“I’m going to continue trying long distances until I can run a marathon,” Sgt. Wells said.
Amn. Watson hopes to make his way to a triathlon someday and Lt. Murray wants to compete in the 50-mile PDT Run next year.