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Range Safety Officer To Discover If Base Trails Lead To Olympics
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Sergio Reyes, 412th Test Wing Range Safety officer (photo above), has been running since he was a young boy.
This Feb. 13, he'll run for a spot on the 2016 Summer Olympic Marathon Team at the trials in Los Angeles.
"I think I was a couple years old when my dad took me out on the track," said Reyes.
Since those days, he's dreamed of running on the Olympic team.
"Watching [the Olympics] on T.V. as a kid, I remember telling my dad, 'this is so cool, someday I want to be there.' I've always been fascinated by it and had in my mind that's where I wanted to be."
He continued running, eventually at the collegiate level. After graduating, he joined a post-collegiate running team that helps athletes with Olympic potential develop into higher-caliber runners. His coach saw that he had greater strengths over longer distances so he gradually moved up from 5K and 10K races to half-marathons and marathons.
This year's Olympic trials will be Reyes' third time trying out for the team. In the off years between the Olympics, Reyes has participated in the U.S. Marathon Championships where he won in 2010, securing him a spot in the World Championships in 2011.
According to Reyes, the World Championships are "basically like the Olympics in the off years."
"You get all the same high-caliber, best-in-the-world athletes to show up," recalled Reyes. "I got to represent the U.S... It was awesome, sporting the red, white and blue and representing your country. It was definitely the highlight of my career I would say."
He continued to work on his marathon time from there. He achieved his personal best to date in 2013 running the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, U.S.A. Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at 2:13:34.
Meanwhile, the competition has continued to improve as well.
A little over a year ago, Reyes faced a major challenge to his running career when he was diagnosed with achilles tendonitis in both feet.
"I [sought] every kind of intermediate band aid basically that I could find," said Reyes. "That wasn't quite enough and finally the doctor said, 'biomechanically your body is working against you at this point.'"
Still hopeful that he might someday make the Olympic team, Reyes decided to undergo surgery in May of 2015 on his left foot. The doctors performed a calcaneal resection to correct the Haglund's deformity (a bony enlargement on the back of the heel) as well as a gastroc achilles recession. In the operation, the surgeon removed part of Reyes' heel bone and lengthened his tendon.
The recovery time was extensive, leaving him unable to train at the level he needed for the marathon.
"In the back of my mind I'm thinking, 'I've got to get healthy, I've got to get running,'" he said.
Eventually he found a specialist that offered an innovative, non-invasive technique that accelerates healing in the area.
"With that and patience, and slow timing to let the body heal, I've actually been able to start running again...This weekend I'm hoping to just run strong, hopefully finish it strong, but I'm really just happy to be there."
In order to make it to the Olympic trails, a runner has to achieve one of two Olympic standards. Those who make the A standard for the men's category, 2 hours and 15 minutes or less, are invited to compete with all expenses paid. Reyes was one of less than 30 men to make that standard.
Runners who make the B standard are invited to compete, but must pay their own way.
The first three men and first three women to cross the finish line in their respective races will make the team.
"It's all happening in one day, in one race - both the men and women's Olympic marathon trials in L.A. this weekend. Once you're in that's all that matters, it's just the first three across the line that make the team," said Reyes.
Reyes runs twice a day, anywhere he can get the miles in, the trails at Edwards or in West Palmdale. This weekend he will be joined by his wife, parents and sisters to cheer him on.
"[Running is] probably more than anything a time of reflection," said Reyes. "I appreciate that time to clear my head and then go places I wouldn't normally go. To be able to go to a city, run to the top of some peaks or some hills, and see some awesome views; that part is really cool."
by Rebecca Amber
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