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Officer runs down dream

Second Lt. Anthony D’Amato, 22nd Communications, Squadron sprints down the base track Aug 23. He is training to compete at the 11th annual Air Force Marathon at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 15. (photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski)

Second Lt. Anthony D’Amato, 22nd Communications, Squadron sprints down the base track Aug 23. He is training to compete at the 11th annual Air Force Marathon at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 15. (photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- It might be one doosie of a jodie-call a McConnell member will be singing to himself while he tackles the 13.1 mile half-marathon at the 11th annual Air Force Marathon Sept. 15 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. 

However, this McConnell officer won't be singing the whole time. He'll be visualizing how hard he needs to run to win this competition and beat his own record. 

Second Lt. Anthony D'Amato, 22nd Communication Squadron, has made the list of top Air Force athletes. The lieutenant will be representing Team McConnell at the race, as a "fit to fight" Airmen, after spending months preparing and training for the competition. 

The Air Force Marathon events include a full marathon, a half-marathon, four-person relay and a wheel chair marathon. This year's marathons will commemorate the Air Force's 60th anniversary. 

Though, Lieutenant D'Amato will not tackle the full race, running the half-marathon will allow him to gauge his physical stamina, as his next goal is to complete the full-length 26.2 mile U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in October. 

"I started running based on a bet with my parents to help me loose my 'chunk'. They made a deal with me that if I ran 100 miles in a year I would get $100," he said. "For every mile I ran over 100, I would receive that many dollars in cash." 

"The first year, I ran 79 miles and didn't receive anything," he said. 

In an effort to improve his distance, he joined the cross country team the following year and ran 176 miles. Every year after that, his mileage increased, 235 miles, then 315 miles the next year. 

Lieutenant D'Amato ran during high school and participated in a variety of sports, landing him a congressional nomination and acceptance into the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. 

As running is an integral part of the Air Force fitness program, the lieutenant now runs an average of 100 miles a week. 

Taking part in his weekly training routine, he focuses on 17-22-mile distance running, stretching and taking yoga at the base fitness center. 

"I train hard, with long tempo runs and strength training," said Lieutenant D'Amato. "Yoga helps me stretch, tone my muscles and increase my flexibility." 

His goal at the half-marathon is to finish it in less than 70 minutes. 

"Running is relaxing to me and completes my day. Running every day improves my efficiency and running mechanics," he said. 

He does just that. People see him running on the track, around the base. Other Airmen run along with his pace, keeping him company while he runs. 

"I'm sure the average person thinks Lieutenant D'Amato is good because of natural talent which he has, but more so, he gets out there every single day and works really hard, no matter what the conditions are like or how he feels," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Clair, 22nd Communications Squadron. "He's been doing it for several years. He's tough," he said. 

By doing this physical ritual, he is getting closer to his dream of making the Olympic trials. 

So, does he have any running secrets to share? 

"Everyone is looking for ways to help them run faster. I feel the best way to improve your running is to lace up your shoes and take care of business," said Lieutenant D'Amato. 

Winning an Air Force Marathon medal would be the icing on the cake for this McConnell officer. Although he wants to simply accomplish his self-goals, he hopes to take home the gold and get one step closer to representing himself and the Air Force at the next world Olympics.