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Going the distance: Ellsworth team participates in Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Running a marathon would seem a daunting task to most people, but Maj. Launa Bellucci, 28th Force Support Squadron commander, and her team of six runners are stepping up to the challenge by participating in the annual Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon, June 7.

The team was assembled after Major Bellucci sent an e-mail to all 28 FSS personnel in December, asking for volunteers who would like to join a team that would run together in the Deadwood Mickelson Marathon. Volunteers could run either 13.1 miles or the full distance of 26.2 miles.

The e-mail was sent out six months prior to the actual event, to allow adequate time for the team to assemble, and properly train before participating in the marathon, Major Bellucci said.

The idea to assemble a team, was a means for Major Bellucci, a devoted marathoner, since running her first marathon at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in 2004, was to impart the joy that marathon running had brought to her life.

"I really wanted to mentor a team," Major Bellucci said. "I wanted people to know that if they wanted to do something like this, they could."

"The fact that most of the participants had never run a marathon before made the next six months of training even more exciting and motivating," Major Bellucci said.

Participants from 28 FSS immediately responded and quickly began an organized training schedule in January. Weekly meetings, were held on Saturdays at Bandit Lake, and focused on training together for the long runs. Most participants focused on the half-marathon and were given a training schedule for novice runners.

"It's not so much about how long it takes but the mere fact of being able to complete the run," Major Bellucci said. "It's a blessing simply to be able to do something like this and it's important for people to be realistic when setting their goals and to be humble and patient while doing the training."

Training also included recommendations to help ensure their success in the marathon, and help avoid injury.

This included team members ensuring they ran at least four days a week with one long run a week (four to 20 miles), wearing the proper shoes to avoid injury, allotted time for adequate rest before and after long runs, investigating the benefits of energy supplements, testing different foods to see which cooperated with their bodies best while running and sticking with the routine that worked best for them.

One of the team members, Senior Airman Kirby McDonald, 28 FSS installation personnel readiness journeyman, joined the team despite the fact that he had never been an active runner.

"I wanted to challenge myself," Airmen McDonald said, "The most rewarding part of this experience is to be able to complete a goal that I set for myself."

Participating in the marathon training has also presented Airmen McDonald with another reward, since beginning training in January he has lost almost 15 pounds and 3 inches off his waist.

The opportunity to run a marathon with a team has also been a great motivator in keeping Airmen McDonald and his teammates on track.

After four solid months of training, Major Bellucci, 1st Lt. Adam Baker, 28 FSS sustainment flight commander, 2nd Lt. Carl Corvin, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron section commander, 2nd Lt. Christine Leonard, 28th Mission Support Group executive officer, Tech. Sgt. Ann Mitchell, 28th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of readiness, and her husband Tech. Sgt. James Mitchell, 28th Communications Squadron NCO in charge of plans and implementation, and Airman McDonald remain dedicated.

As for how the team will perform during the marathon, Major Bellucci has only the highest expectations.

"I know that everyone will do well and I am so proud of them," Major Bellucci said. "Their time is not as important as them actually doing the marathon."

During the marathon the team will traverse a point to point course, beginning on the trail in the town of Rochford, S.D., the first 1.5 miles of the run. After this point, the course becomes the actual Mickelson Trail and the next 12 miles are a mixture of moderate uphill and flat terrain.

From this point the trail is downhill until the runners reach 19 miles. After mile 19, the trail descends downhill until the finish line located at the Engine House in Deadwood, S.D. The finish line is open for seven hours after the start of the initial run.

For advice on fitness or diet improvements, call the Bellamy Fitness Center at (605) 385-2266 and the Health and Wellness Center at (605) 385-2349. For more information on the Deadwood Mickelson Trail marathon, visit, or contact Lean Horse Productions at (605) 641-3534.