Altus captain embarks on "Journey of Freedom" to honor fallen heroes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"I am going to finish - whether I have to walk the last 50 miles or however far it is, I am going to finish ... I have told myself that. No one is going to let me stop, I have already told my family not to try and stop me. It is going to be very mentally and physically demanding," said Capt. Chris Pace about his upcoming challenge.

Air Force Capt. Chris Pace, 58th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot, is planning to bike from Arlington National Cemetery, Va., for approximately 150 miles and then run another 100 miles to Ground Zero in New York City, N.Y., Sept. 10-11 without stopping to rest.

Pace is calling his athletic quest the "Journey of Freedom" and he is doing it in support of The Disposable Heroes Project, which is a non-profit organization that supports wounded and fallen warriors and their families. His overall goal is to complete this event in 36 hours and raise at least $25,000 for the DHP, which is similar to the Make a Wish Foundation in that it tries to improve the lives of wounded veterans and the families of fallen warriors.

The idea for the "Journey of Freedom" first came to Pace after he attended a CrossFit event at CrossFit Native in Warr Acres, Okla. April 30. The event was in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Jack Martin III, 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash., who was killed Sept. 29, 2009 by an improvised explosive device in Jolo Island, Philippines, during Operation Enduring Freedom. Martin's parents and siblings were present during the CrossFit event and spoke about their son, how much he loved CrossFit and how much this event meant to them. It was there that the DHP gave Martin's parents two-round trip tickets to Wash., to visit their son's ashes. At the time the tickets were given to Martin's parents they had not yet reached the point in their grieving process to visit his remains.

According to Pace, Martin's parents recently used the tickets to visit their son.

After hearing the Martins' story and seeing the impact the DHP had on this family, Pace knew he needed to find some way to contribute.

"I probably wouldn't have thought to do this event if I didn't go to the event and see face-to-face how the DHP affected this family," Pace said. "I was thinking there has to be something I can do, especially with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 coming up. I was thinking of Arlington, Virginia, where our fallen soldiers, warriors and veterans are buried, and then the World Trade Center, where these wars really kind of started. So those are the two spots that I decided to start and end at and I wanted to leave at least 100 miles to run."

Pace is a sponsored CrossFit athlete and has been doing CrossFit for two years. Fitness is nothing to him, he has been serious about fitness his entire life.

"I have played sports all my life," Pace said. "I started playing hockey when I was three-years-old and have continued fitness all my life. I never really understood what true fitness was though until about two years ago when I found CrossFit. I am now healthier and stronger than ever before both mentally and physically."

He trains five to six days a week and sometimes twice a day if his body feels up to it.

"I am always looking at different ways to challenge myself," Pace said. My house is like a Rocky movie. I have gymnast rings, a 550 pound tire, concrete atlas stones and pretty much anything else you can think of that can challenge me physically."

Pace is not training specifically for this, but he will continue his normal CrossFit routine. He believes this event will be one of the greatest challenges in his life.

"We have all had our hard times that we remember, whether it was basic training, survival school or finals week at college," Pace said. "For a person who does ultra marathons, regular marathons or triathlons this probably would not be the most challenging event of their lives. However, for a person who never bikes and the furthest he runs at one time is about three miles, I would say this will be the most challenging event of my life thus far, at least physically. I think it is going to be right up there mentally as well."

As physically and mentally demanding as he predicts this journey to be, Pace is determined to finish.

"I have already told myself that I am going to finish no matter what," said Pace. "I know there will be times when I want to quit but that's when I have to realize why I am doing this and who I am doing this for. Those 36-48 hours of what some people may call 'hell' is nothing compared to what our wounded vets and families of lost loved ones have gone through. That is my motivation."

For more information about Pace's "Journey of Freedom" visit the Facebook page at!/JourneyOfFreedom.