Running toward success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachelle Elsea
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As the warm Florida sun rays beat down, there is only one goal in mind, to reach the finish line. A combination of perseverance and inner strength keeps one foot in front of the other and there is no force in nature can stop this runner's determination.
The sky is the limit.

Senior Airman Kristofer E. Chacon, Food Service apprentice, 325th Force Support Squadron, was selected to represent Air Education Training Command in the Air Force Marathon. He is scheduled to compete in the 10K event Sept. 19 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Airman Chacon, a native of Carson, Calif., began running competitively in 8th grade. His physical education instructors saw his potential and encouraged him to participate in an annual event held between other local schools.

In 9th grade, he joined the school's track team and at first wanted to be a sprinter. However, with his high level of endurance, Airman Chacon was quickly reassigned to long distance.

In the same year, Airman Chacon entered the Mt. Sac Cross Country Invitational where he took first place.

The following year, he said he joined the cross country team, but after completing half a season he quit, unsure whether running was really his passion.

"The summer after 11th grade it really hit me, I felt empty," said Airman Chacon. "Running filled that void."

His senior year, he participated in track and cross country. He also competed in the Los Angeles and San Diego Marathons.
Immediately after graduation, Airman Chacon shipped off to basic military training at Lackland AFB, Texas, where he earned the Warhawk award. The Warhawk award is presented to trainees with the highest physical training test results.

Upon completing BMT, Airman Chacon stayed at Lackland where he attended technical school and was chosen to represent his squadron in a physical training competition.

"I was going up against guys from pararescue and security forces," said Airman Chacon. "I was the under-dog."

Airman Chacon finished first.

After technical school, he was assigned to Misawa Air Base, Japan, where he competed on-and off-base. During his one-year tour he competed in the Misawa 10K, the Tokyo Marathon, Ichinohe 10K and the Tokyo City 10K.

He was then assigned to Tyndall AFB, Fla. En Route he stopped at Kadena AB, Okinawa for an eight mile race, where he placed first.

He also made a pit stop in Hawaii where he competed in the Honolulu Marathon.

"I like pushing myself, reaching my limits," Airman Chacon said. "After a race, I am exhausted, but I love reaching my breaking point."

Since arriving at Tyndall, Airman Chacon has been an avid member of the Raptor Running Club. He said the club helps him stay in shape.

He said he hopes to one day run for a college like University of California, Los Angeles. But, for now his focus is the Air Force Marathon.

To train, he said he controls his diet and exercises regularly.

"I do a lot of crunches, which help with my breathing," said Airman Chacon. "I alternate days between sprinting and long distance running. One rule of thumb when you are running is whatever distance you are running in your competition, run more during practice."

Airman Chacon said he is very thankful for the support he has received through the years. He said he is grateful to his family, his co-workers, the running club and the fitness center.

"My family always supported my running; they always came to events in high school and cheered me on," said Airman Chacon.

Richard L. Byers, Tyndall Fitness Center sports director, said Airman Chacon is an amazing runner.

"He is the best runner I have seen in the past five years at Tyndall," Mr. Byers said. "We are looking forward to sending him to the Air Force Marathon."

Mr. Byers is also looking to the future.

"If he continues training, he could possibly represent the Air Force, competing against the other armed forces," Mr. Byers said. "He has unlimited potential."