Wisconsin Air Guardsman looks to hit stride during National Guard Marathon try-out

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
  • 115th Fighter WIng Public Affairs
In 2010, Airman 1st Class Robert Miles ran only the second marathon of his life.

He won.

Now, nearly two years and six marathons later, he's 26.2 miles away from a chance at making the National Guard Marathon Team.

Although he could probably run there, Miles will likely save his legs by driving to Lincoln, Neb., May 6 where he'll compete against hundreds of Soldiers and Airmen from across the country at a chance to join the national-level team.

"I'm excited to go out there and compete against all the other National Guard runners," Miles said. "I think it's going to be a rewarding experience."

Miles has been running between 70 and 90 miles per week to train and is looking to finish the race in Lincoln with a would-be personal best time of 2:40 - a time he guesstimates would earn him a top 15 finish.

The top 45 male and 15 female finishers of the National Guard Marathon, hosted by the Lincoln Track Club, typically make the team.

"I don't feel like I have natural ability, but I'm willing to put in the work and the miles and that's what will get me through this race," Miles said.

Miles was introduced to long-distance running when his girlfriend, Katie Nedza, suggested he train for a half-marathon while she prepared for a full marathon with her father. The couple is now engaged to be married and the bride-to-be lacks no amount of excitement for the road ahead.

"I think that he's just been a really hard worker with everything he's done," Katie said. "He just keeps pushing himself because he's very competitive and wants to be good at anything he does."

Katie said Miles has become more focused on training since he found out about the National Guard Marathon in January. He goes on fast runs in the morning with a fellow member of the LaCrosse-based River City Running Club, and then he goes for another run with Katie in the afternoon.

"The key is just taking care of yourself -- eating right, icing and getting ready ... knowing when to push yourself, when to run easy, when to run hard," Miles said. "My training's been going really good."

There is little doubt he knows how to train. On April 15, he notched his second-consecutive "Excellent" on his Air Force physical fitness test earning a perfect score on the mile and a half run with a nearly unheard of time of 7:59.

Perhaps more impressive, however, is that less than two years after he seriously began running, he qualified for and ran the prestigious Boston Marathon, which is considered by some to be the Super Bowl of marathon running. He ran it in 2:48:56 - placing 507th out of 22,000 runners from across the globe.

Miles, who joined the 115th in 2010, is excited to take his running to the next level, but he's also humbled to be able to do it on behalf of others.

"Knowing that I'm running for the 115th and the Wisconsin National Guard is an honor in and of itself," he said.