By Sgt. Tackora Hand
| Indiana National Guard | Oct. 14, 2020
Indiana National Guard Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, the adjutant general, gives a challenge coin to 2nd Lt. Blaine Zimmerman, Indianapolis, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Zimmerman, along with 1st Sgt. Joe McFarren, Liberty Center; Staff Sgt. Whitney Lake, Indianapolis; Lt. Col. Jason Doffin, Carmel, and 1st Lt. Gary Parks, Camby, earned sport on the All-Guard Marathon Team in September during time trails in Nebraska. (Photo by Master Sgt. Jeff Lowry)
Five Indiana National Guard athletes competed with 34 states and territories for their spot on the elite All-Guard Marathon Team during the National Guard Marathon Time Trials at the Omaha Marathon in September.
"These guardsmen are leading the way in physical readiness,” said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, Indiana adjutant general and leader of approximately 13,000 Hoosier service members. “It is my pleasure to congratulate this team for their exceptional performance at the Omaha Marathon, they represent the Indiana National Guard very well."
Historically the Lincoln Marathon and Half Marathon is held in Nebraska on the first Sunday in May. This year due the coronavirus pandemic, the Midwest Marathon also served as the National Guard Marathon official time trials.
Running a marathon competitively takes hard work and dedication that can take anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks of training at minimum. It is because of this required pre-commitment a change in race day can be somewhat daunting on any training schedule.
“I always run, but I started regimented training in January for the Lincoln in May,” said Lt. Col. Jason Doffin, the Indiana National Guard marathon team program coordinator. “Then COVID happened.”
The pandemic forced the cancellation of many traditional road races, including the Boston Marathon, which canceled for the first time in 124 years. The lack of other organized events, including 5K, 10K, and half-marathon races, made training more difficult. Forcing runners to find more creative ways to train as a team and maintain needed fitness levels to stay competitive.
Doffin said the Indiana National Guard team adapted well to a new normal.
Each member of the team had a specific app where they all tracked each other’s runs and continued to build camaraderie encouraging one another to remain committed even during these unprecedented times.
The Indiana National Guard team took top honors as the overall National Guard team winner with an unofficial average team time of 3:05:16.
The top National Guard runners selected for the 2020-2021 All-Guard Marathon Team will travel the country to compete in select events as part of the All-Guard Military Competitions Program.
Indiana members of the 2020-2021 All-Guard Marathon Team:
• 1st Sgt. Joe McFarren, Liberty Center
• 2nd Lt. Blaine Zimmerman, Indianapolis
• Staff Sgt. Whitney Lake, Indianapolis
• Lt. Col. Jason Doffin, Carmel
• 1st Lt. Gary Parks, Camby