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12th SWS holds half marathon in Greenland’s arctic tundra

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland – 12th Space Warning Squadron Airmen participate in a half marathon on Thule Air Base, Greenland, May 23, 2020. The event helped bring Airmen and their civilian coworkers together in a fun and safe environment to promote physical fitness.  (Courtesy photo)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland – 12th Space Warning Squadron Airmen participate in a half marathon on Thule Air Base, Greenland, May 23, 2020. The event helped bring Airmen and their civilian coworkers together in a fun and safe environment to promote physical fitness. (Courtesy photo)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland --

Even though physical fitness assessments have been suspended for Department of the Air Force personnel until Oct. 1, 2020, it’s still important to make physical fitness a priority. Physical distancing and other pandemic guidelines have made working out more difficult with restrictions placed on gyms, and Airmen at Thule Air Base, Greenland, face the added challenge of frigid weather limiting or preventing outdoor exercise. The 12th Space Warning Squadron battled all of these obstacles while holding a half marathon May 23, 2020 on base.

1st Lt. David McNally, 12th SWS flight commander, said squadron leadership felt the event would give Airmen and their civilian coworkers a chance to come together at a safe physical distance, while also enhancing physical fitness.

Planning and coordinating the event involved presenting the idea to squadron commander Lt. Col. Jared Smith for approval, and organizing routes, alternative modes of descending the mountain and support personnel and vehicles.

Fifteen Airmen from the 12th SWS and 821st Air Base Group and four civilian contractors participated in the half marathon. Preparing to take part in the half marathon proved difficult with various health restrictions and guidelines, but participants worked hard to overcome the challenges.

“With no prior endurance running experience, I started a training regimen of running long distances three times per week,” said McNally. “All of the running had to be done on treadmills since weather and winter storm season did not allow for running outdoors.”

Temperatures ranged from 10 to 20 degrees with wind chill on the day of the event.  The route was windy and had a 1,000 foot drop in elevation along rough unpaved roads. 

“I figured this was the perfect opportunity to do something extreme in the extreme environment,” McNally said. “Not many can say that they completed a half marathon in such conditions, and this was a chance to allow that to happen.”

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui