AF Marathon: What inspires you to run?

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Air Force Marathon is Saturday morning at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. I am excited to run the half! It is a Boston Marathon qualifying run, but not everyone is in it to win it.

Running clears the mind, but when the gas tank runs low and the muscles start to cramp, what fuels you to finish? I asked my fellow runners that question and received some pretty remarkable answers.

“Hi, I’m Samantha, and I run for my son Connor who has 22Q deletion syndrome!”

Samantha Block will be one of the 15,000 participants in this year’s Air Force Marathon.

“It’s really cool,” said Rob Aguiar, race director, talking about the finish line. “You get to go underneath the aircraft and then there’s going to be a general officer ready to present you with a medal.”

He said what started as a fun-run in 1997, has grown into a world-class event. However, there’s something more than crossing the finish line that keeps the masses coming back.

“I’m not a good runner by any means,” laughed Block. “Don’t look for my name in the finish results because I’m going to be close to the bottom, but that’s not what matters.”

For Samantha, it’s Connor; her little boy battling 22Q which has caused him to have a heart defect and a delicate immune system. He gives her strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Who is your Connor? We asked that question earlier this month on social media and you shared with us your inspiration.

You are running for: a son with autism, a co-worker’s baby girl battling an illness, for our veterans, our country, for Mary, and for Caden. You run to celebrate being breast cancer free and for a father who is fighting cancer. You run for those who cannot; for friends and loved ones no longer here.

“So, I’m out here for my kids, I’m out here for my own health and fitness, and my sanity as a mom,” smiled Block.

When fueled by inspiration like this, race or not, it’s always a step in the right direction.

I am running #JennaStrong. Jenna Parlette, 20, was a Miamisburg runner who also ran for Wilmington College. She battled epilepsy and an irregular heartbeat for years. She died in 2013 after collapsing during a race. Her mother, Lisa, has started the Jenna Parlette Memorial Foundation.

Jenna was also an advocate for the American Heart Association and stressed the importance of knowing CPR. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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