19:26 PM

CAP Marathon Walkers Contribute to 'Walk to Mars'

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tim Miner
Virginia Wing

With the virtual edition of the annual U.S. Air Force Marathon extending the deadline for Civil Air Patrol’s “Walk to Mars” by 45 days, CAP’s national command chief set the bar high by walking the entire marathon distance – and then some – in a day.

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Dandridge covered 27 miles, compared to the required 26.2, over the Labor Day break.

“Today I woke up to walk the first virtual USAF Marathon. My right foot hurts but I am sore and pleased,” the 61-year-old Air Force veteran emailed fellow national command staff members.

“My prosthetics will let me know later tonight and tomorrow, but I wanted you all to know now,” Dandridge wrote.

When asked what advice he would give other CAP members contemplating such an effort, Dandridge said, “First, if someone has never accomplished a walk over 10miles and wonders if they are capable, then I would encourage them to practice and possibly sign up for a local event.

“Second, you will need to commit. Walking a marathon requires committed training, especially if you want to finish injury-free. [You must] understand walking a marathon is very different from running a marathon, so practice.”

Meanwhile, Chaplain (Col.) John Murdoch, chief of chaplains, has been training for the Air Force Marathon’s 5-kilometer option since he registered for the activity in July.

"Walking has always been something I have enjoyed,” Murdoch said. “The older I get, it has become a source of exercise that I can do without having to be concerned about overdoing it. I would encourage you to seriously consider adding walking to your fitness routine after discussing this form of exercise with your doctor."

Dandridge and Murdoch are only two of hundreds of CAP members committed to participating in the Air Force Marathon, converted this year to a virtual event after the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the annual in-person race in Dayton, Ohio.

Distances they cover will count in CAP’s “Walk to Mars” health and wellness initiative, announced during the August 2019 National Conference by Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, national commander. The campaign had been set to end after a year, but the finish line was extended after the Air Force announced the virtual marathon.