September 22, 2017

Local Airman takes first in Air Force Marathon

Christopher Ball
Edwards AFB, Calif.

Bryan Kelly crosses the finish line as the overall winner of the full marathon at the 21st running of the 2017 U.S. Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Sept. 16. Kelly, from Edwards, California, finished with a time of 2:40:34.

“The brutal honesty of the sport intrigues me. You have to work hard or you’re not going to get better.”

These were the words of the winner of the Air Force Marathon held at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 16, 2017.

Maj. Bryan Kelly, a test pilot with the 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., took first place overall with a finishing time of 2:40:34. His average pace throughout the course was 6:08, just over six minutes a mile, or just under 10mph.

Kelly has run other marathons, including the Air Force Marathon twice before, but this was his first win.

“This was my first time winning a marathon, and the fact that it’s the Air Force Marathon meant a lot to me personally,” Kelly said.

 “I didn’t think it would happen,” he said. “I was in fourth place almost the entire race. Then once I saw the guy in third place, and I moved into third around mile 20 or so, I was thinking “wow, I could actually make top three.”

Then he caught up to the number two runner, passed him, and soon caught sight of the car that was leading the race.

“I started seeing that car a little bit closer, and a little bit closer, and there was the guy in first. Around mile 24 I was able to catch him.”

More than 15,000 runners took part in the Air Force Marathon’s four events – the full 26.2-mile marathon, a half-marathon, and a 10k and 5K race.

“The race itself is awesome,” Kelly said. “The volunteers are all amazing. You go through the town there, Fairborn, then back on the base. The most memorable is the finish – there is a long line of people down the side cheering you on – it is awesome.”

“I do it just for fun, but at the same time it means a lot to me to be able to pull off a win like this. So I am going to keep trying, keep working harder and maybe I’ll get to experience it again.”

Kelly runs marathons simply because he enjoys it. “I love the challenge of trying to improve myself,” he said.

He said one thing that drives him is the direct feedback on how well he’s doing. “How well you can run, it’s a direct reflection of the work you’ve put in before race day. I’m not a particularly gifted runner. I didn’t run in college or receive a lot of coaching. If you want it bad enough, you can get there. I always try to get better and better.”

Kelly said he will continue to train, and is looking at a couple of race options later this year, including an Ironman triathlon in November.

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