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Marathon Men

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass -- Two Patriot Wing reservists proved on Patriot's Day they can go the distance … a very, very long distance.

On April 17, Technical Sgt. William J. Brown, 58th Aerial Port Squadron, and Senior Airman Michael P. Kraus, 439th Airlift Wing finance office, competed in the 110th running of the prestigious Boston Marathon.

Finishing the winding, 26.2-mile race with the world's most elite marathoners is no small task.

The Boston Marathon, with its hilly terrain and finicky New England weather, is considered by many running experts as one of the world's most difficult marathons.
But neither Sergeant Brown nor Airman Kraus, each running the marathon for the first time, let the hype break their strides.

Sergeant Brown posted an impressive 3:30:0, and Airman Kraus raced across the finish line at 4:6:11.

"It's an incredible experience," Sergeant Brown said. "There's nothing like crossing the finish line."

Airman Kraus echoed Sergeant Brown's sentiment.

"I was so pumped up for two weeks afterwards," he said. "I grew up near Boston. So, competing in its marathon was something I've always wanted to do. I was so thrilled that, every time anyone asked me about the race, I couldn't stop talking about it."
Neither reservist plans to call it quits.

The 44-year-old Sergeant Brown, with four marathons under his belt prior to the Boston Marathon, plans to complete in one marathon each month until he reaches his goal of thirteen.

He started running two years ago after his then 11-year-old son, Sean, "inspired" him. Sean drew a balloon and said jokingly to his dad, "This looks like you," suggesting the need to lose weight.

"We laugh about it all the time," Sergeant Brown said. "When someone asks me why I run marathons, I point to Sean and say, ‘Blame him.' But, to his credit, I've lost 40 pounds since I started running."

Airman Kraus, 24, said he got hooked on running during basic training in 2004.
"Since then, I just kept it going, running mostly 5K distances at first," he said. "My original goal was to enter next year's Boston Marathon. But, when the chance of entering this year's race became possible, I grabbed it—even though it gave me only one month to properly prepare."

"The crowd was the best part of the marathon," said Airman Kraus. "There are thousands of people to cheer you on every step of the way, and kids give you high-fives … I don't think I could've made it to the end without the support of the spectators."
While the two Westover reservists raced through the streets of Boston with 20,000 other runners, they were helping charities as well.

Other than the Olympics, the Boston Marathon is the only major marathon that has qualification standards. But, the event allows a limited amount of runners to enter without meeting its standards if they're raising money for sponsored charities.

Sergeant Brown represented Griffin's Team, a Springfield organization dedicated to providing support for children stricken with cancer.

Airman Kraus raised funds for the Disability Law Center of Boston.
"Griffin's Team matches runners with a child from the organization," Sergeant Brown
said. "That's how I met Kyle, from West Springfield.

"He just went through chemotherapy, and he waited for me at the marathon's 24th mile. Once I arrived there, I stopped, we hugged, and I greeted his family. It was very emotional.

"Kyle was my motivation to finish the race. I reminded myself that whatever pain I was feeling was nothing compared to what he has to go through everyday."