Kentucky Guard Soldier brings home National Guard Marathon title

Kentucky National Guard Staff Report

Maj. Varinka Ensminger is congratulated by Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley following her finishing of the 2016 National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, Neb., May 1, 2016. Ensminger captured the Female National Guard Marathon Champion title with a time of 3:09:18, just 13 days from running an almost identical time at the Boston Marathon. (Photo courtesy of the Nebraska National Guard)

Maj. Varinka Ensminger is congratulated by Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley following her finishing of the 2016 National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, Neb., May 1, 2016. Ensminger captured the Female National Guard Marathon Champion title with a time of 3:09:18, just 13 days from running an almost identical time at the Boston Marathon. (Photo courtesy of the Nebraska National Guard)

LINCOLN, Neb. – Kentucky National Guard Soldiers competed in the Lincoln National Guard Marathon Championships in Lincoln, Neb., May 1, 2016. Maj. Varinka Ensminger of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade captured the Female National Guard Marathon Champion title with a time of 3:09:18, just 13 days from running an almost identical time at the Boston Marathon on April 19.

Kentucky’s Team was stacked with several veterans this year but more uniquely, the team’s first married guard couple competed together. Sgt. Angela Sullivan from Kentucky’s Medical Command, who represented the team in 2014, and her husband Staff Sgt. David Sullivan from the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry shared the camaraderie and fitness.

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.

“It was a cold, windy, rainy day as seen in the photos,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Embury. “Runners are resilient and were not at all deterred from the elements and set out on their 26.2 mile trek.”

That of course did not stop him from leading his Kentucky teammates to the finish in a time of 3:04:40. Embury finished 1st in the 40-45 guard men’s age division and earned a spot once again on the All Guard Marathon Team. He will be joined by Team Captain, Maj. Varinka Ensminger.

Chief Warrant Officer Allen Davis still serves as the longest serving Kentucky Guard runner to compete in the event and Sgt. 1st Class Amy Parker competed in her third National Guard Marathon.

“I love coming to this race every year and will continue to as long as I run and serve,” said Ensminger. “It’s like a huge family reunion. The pride of running for your state along the 26.2 mile route as fellow airmen and soldiers hand you water and electrolytes along the course brings a huge smile to my face. I hope the Kentucky Team continues to grow and more guardsmen get involved in fitness competitions. It keeps the body and mind strong.”

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.

2016 Kentucky National Guard Marathon Team

1          3:04:40 SFC Michael Embury, 202nd Army Band

2          3:09:18 MAJ Varinka T. Barbini Ensminger, HHC, 149th MEB

3          3:29:15 CW3 Allen Davis, 149th MEB

4          4:16:40 SFC Amy Parker, 149th MEB

5          4:54:27 SGT David Sullivan, DET 2 HHC 1/149th

5          5:09:21 SGT Angela Sullivan, KY MEDCOM

 

2016 Lincoln National Guard Marathon Award Recipients

4th Female Overall

MAJ Varinka T. Barbini Ensminger

2016 National Guard Marathon Championships Award Recipients

1st Female Overall

MAJ Varinka T. Barbini Ensminger

1st Male in 40-45 Age Division

SFC Michael Embury

2014-2015 National Guard Elite Marathon Team Qualifiers

MAJ Varinka T. Barbini Ensminger

SFC Michael Embury

For more information about the Kentucky National Guard Marathon Team, contact Major Varinka T. Barbini Ensminger at varinka.t.ensminger.mil@mail.mil

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