Kentucky finishes third in Guard marathon

Staff Report

KYNG Marathon Team 1

Members of the Kentucky National Guard Marathon Team traveled to Lincoln, Neb., for the Lincoln National Guard Marathon, May 3, 2015. More than 11,000 runners took part in the annual race. Left to right, Col. Christian Stewart, Maj. Varinka Ensminger, Sgt. 1st Class Amy Parker, Chief Warrant Officer Allen Davis and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Embury.  (Photo courtesy of the Nebraska National Guard)

LINCOLN, Neb. – Kentucky National Guard Soldiers competed in the Lincoln National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, Neb., on May 3, 2015. Kentucky placed 3rd overall amongst all teams, just one minute behind 2nd place Indiana. Air State Surgeon, Col. Christian Stewart, lead the way for Kentucky runners to a podium finish.

More than 11,000 runners gathered on the first weekend in May for what they imagined would be a run-of-the-mill 26.2 mile race. The participants ran the city-wide course that started on the campus of the University of Nebraska, and finished on the 50-yard line of Cornhuskers Memorial Stadium.

Runners endured more heat than in past years as temperatures climbed into the mid-70’s which can feel like the upper 90’s in the direct sun.

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Sgt. 1st Class Michael Embury runs in the Lincoln National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, Neb., May 3, 2015. Embury finished as the 3rd male in his age category. (Photo courtesy of the Nebraska National Guard)

“It was a hot run out there and the motivation of my teammates kept me going,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Embury. “At first I was disappointed in my performance, but that all changed when I heard how Kentucky did as a team. 3rd Place is one for the record books.”

Embury earned a spot once again on the All Guard Marathon Team. He will be joined by both Stewart and Team Captain, Maj. Varinka Ensminger.

The annual National Guard Marathon competition brought together teams of the best Army and Air National Guard athletes from all 50 States, and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. Participants strived to be on the “All Guard” Team, consisting of the top 40 fastest running Guardsmen, and the top 15 Guardswomen. By qualifying they gain the privilege to represent the National Guard throughout the year in various competitions nationwide.

Team members train independently with their home states and meet up at the duty location of the competition.  Their mission is to advocate for the National Guard through local and national media, host booths event expositions, support and offer advice to local athletes, and gain leads for future recruits and potential athletes.

This year’s Kentucky team was small, but mighty. Stewart and Embury were joined by Ensminger in leading the team scoring. Rounding out the team was Chief Warrant Officer Allen Davis, the longest serving Kentucky Guard runner and Sgt. 1st Class Amy Parker who competed in her second National Guard Marathon.

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Col. Christian Stewart runs in the Lincoln National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, Neb., May 3, 2015. Stewart finished as the 3rd male overall.  (Photo courtesy of the Nebraska National Guard)

“I couldn’t be more proud of how the team performed this year,” said Ensminger. “It’s been a long time since Kentucky has seen the podium. Col. Stewart was finally able to attend this amazing event and contributed tremendously. I hope his presence aids in getting more folks on the Air Guard side involved.”

Kentucky not only looked sharp this year but was well hydrated by SWORD. SWORD is called the next generation of performance hydration. The product was co-founded by two doctors including a Kentucky National Guard Veteran runner, Scott Black, who also competed on the Kentucky Guard Marathon Team in the early 90s. “I was put in contact with Scott by a former Kentucky Guard Marathon Team member, Maj. (Retired) Mark Barnett. I thought it would be a great idea to connect the past and present teams. Just another validation of the great work produced by Kentucky National Guard members.” said Ensminger.

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