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4th SOPS ground engineer ‘re-kindles’ passion for running

Kenneth Wright, 4th Space Operations Squadron ground engineer, poses for a photo before heading out for a run at Bear Creek Regional Park, Colorado, May 21, 2020. After COVID-19 closed Schriever’s fitness center from March 16-May 4, Wright decided to set a goal to run 200 miles in April. (Courtesy photo)

Kenneth Wright, 4th Space Operations Squadron ground engineer, poses for a photo before heading out for a run at Bear Creek Regional Park, Colorado, May 21, 2020. After COVID-19 closed Schriever’s fitness center from March 16-May 4, Wright decided to set a goal to run 200 miles in April. (Courtesy photo)

Kenneth Wright, 4th Space Operations Squadron ground engineer, runs down a trail at Bear Creek Regional Park, Colorado, May 21, 2020. Wright set a goal to run 200 miles in April. He completed his goal April 30. (Courtesy photo)

Kenneth Wright, 4th Space Operations Squadron ground engineer, runs down a trail at Bear Creek Regional Park, Colorado, May 21, 2020. Wright set a goal to run 200 miles in April. He completed his goal April 30. (Courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

While the COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for numerous Airmen here, Kenneth Wright, 4th Space Operations Squadron ground engineer, made certain not to fall into that pit.

After the virus closed Schriever’s fitness center March 16-May 4, Wright decided to set a goal to run 200 miles in April. He completed his goal April 24 and completed the month at 251 miles. 

“It started as something to do on a regular basis and it helped me to establish a routine,” Wright said. “We didn’t know how long this COVID situation would last so I knew I had to do something. I’m so happy I did.” 

Wright’s challenge developed shortly after realizing he could not complete the Lazyman Triathlon, which 50th Force Support Squadron holds each year. The triathlon includes swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running 26.2 miles in February. The event also features add-ons after each successful month.

To help meet his target, Wright calculated the break down for weekly and daily marks to remain on course.

After that, Wright began the pursuit of his goal. He completed each run alone to follow social distancing guidelines. 

“I’m a social runner and I like to run with people,” Wright said. “That makes me a better runner and you run faster and harder around other people. But I stayed motivated because I wanted to hit 200 miles.” 

The desire to achieve his goal drove Wright to push through the days he experienced soreness or didn’t want to run. Seth Cannello, 50th Force Support Squadron fitness and sports director, understands how critical Wright’s goal was to his success.  

“If you don’t have a goal, you just cruise along not really knowing how far you’re going to run or how long you’re going to exercise,” Cannello said. “When you start running or exercising without a goal, you are more likely to quit sooner than if you had a goal.  It’s a good way to keep yourself motivated to succeed and the harder the challenge, the more critical it is to have a plan.”

Cannello isn’t surprised by Wright’s performance and what he accomplished. Each year for the Lazyman Triathlon, Wright is front and center, ready to compete. 

“Ken has completed the Lazyman Triathlon numerous times and is one of only two people to ever complete both Jacob’s Ladder challenges,” Cannello said. “The two Jacob’s Ladder challenges consist of ‘climbing’ Mt. Everest (29,035 feet) in one month and/or climbing 5,280 feet (one mile) in under an hour.” 

The Lazyman Triathlon pushed Wright to new fitness plateaus and helped him develop a passion for swimming. Wright previously used running as his primary source of exercise. After several years of completing the Lazyman, though, he gravitated toward the pool.

“Swimming was a way to extend my running career, but at some point, I started swimming more than running,” Wright said. “After the shutdown happened, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do since pools closed. That’s when I decided to go all in with running and do 200 miles for the month.” 

COVID-19 helped Wright “re-kindle” his love for running and worked to return to increased mileage. Currently, he runs eight miles per day despite the effects it briefly had on his body. 

“If I wake up feeling sore, it’s easy not to run but I’ll do it,” he said. “Running hurts a lot more, but I stick with it. Before COVID[-19] hit, I was more of an avid swimmer than a runner. That’s partly why I switched back to running – to maintain some form of exercise and also establish routine. It’s really benefitted my life.”

Now that he’s completed his goal, Wright said he’s figuring out a new challenge.

“I’m thinking about training for a half marathon,” he said. “I’d like to finish building my base out for May and then start training for a couple of half marathons.”

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