Running for life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class David Bernal Del Agua
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
He spends his time running when he isn't flying a KC-135 Stratotanker or assisting in the daily operations of his squadron.

Capt. Daniel Castle, a St. Joseph, Missouri native, only stopped running competitively to become a pilot, but now he is back at it. The only difference, he now races for the Air Force instead of the Academy team.

"In college, I always said that I didn't have the attention span for cross-country," said the 349th Air Refueling Squadron chief executive officer. "So I only did 'short' distance runs of 1,500 meters."

In 2009, Castle set the U.S. Air Force Academy 1500m school record with a time of 3:44.08.  He went on to race in the USA Track and Field Championships in 2010 where he finished 21st.

This year will be the third time Castle runs with the Air Force cross-country team in the USA National Cross Country Championships coming up on Feb. 7 in Boulder, Colorado. It's a once-a-year event where he travels with other members selected to represent the branch.

The Air Force Team will be competing not only against the best professional teams in the country, but also against the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.

"Air Force running is primarily singular events, not training camps," said Castle. "It's less expensive that way and it takes less duty time."

Individuals train on their own and submit their times from different races to be judged by the coach and accepted onto the team.

"I'll try to get a run in during my lunch break or before or after work," said Castle. "Sometimes when I work long days, I end up going on runs at 10 p.m. just to maintain proficiency and training."

Castle's dedication to the sport leads him to run anywhere between 50 to 60 miles during the week, although he would run more if his Air Force commitments would allow. He has completed four deployments supporting operations in the Arabian Gulf in the last two years.

"I will generally run outside unless it's minus 10 degrees or below," said Castle. "I'll run in the cold, in the rain, in the ice and in the hail. Sometimes I feel like the post office, except I don't lose your packages."

His commander noticed the drive Castle showed toward accomplishing his objective and expects him to perform well.

"Capt. Castle has shown great dedication toward his goal of running with the Air Force cross-country team," said Lt. Col. Stephen Matthews, 349th ARS commander. "He is an exceptional officer who consistently excels in his job here and I know he will represent our squadron, McConnell, and the Air Force extremely well and we wish him the best of luck in this competition."

According to Castle, his success would not be possible without the support he receives from everyone in his squadron.

"I've just received so much support from everyone in the squadron, and that support is what keeps me going on days where it's very difficult," said Castle. "It's that support that really makes it worthwhile. It's the greatest honor that I have to represent not only myself, but the 349th ARS and the Air Force itself."