RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Impulse entrant Joe Campbell, an Army medic from nearby Landstuhl, shaved nearly 20 seconds off his personal best Saturday and struck gold in the USAFE Regional Cross Country Championships.
“I just heard about this race yesterday,” Campbell said after covering 10,000 meters in 35 minutes, 17 seconds to win the men’s open division. “I thought I’d give it a try.”
Campbell outran runner-up Kyle Southard of Ramstein High School by 45 seconds. Barry Brill of Ansbach was third in 37:03.
Despite the absence of Air Force runners from the open podium, Saturday’s 10,000 was intended as a qualifying race for the USAFE team of eight men and six women for next month’s Combined Command Air Headquarters Ramstein international championships in Poznan, Poland.
The men in blue did better in the seniors event. The race, for runners 35 and older, was won by Ramstein’s Donnie Gray.
Gray, who’ll be making his third appearance at the Air Headquarters meet, said he was not satisfied with the 37:18 he ran Saturday.
“I’ve got about a half-case of pneumonia,” he said. “I think I’ll run better in Poland.”
Also ill was another Ramstein runner who’ll be making his third appearance in the Air Headquarters meet, which attracts the best distance runners from NATO air forces in Europe.
“I left half a lung behind that tree,” joked Casey Jackson, who missed an open medal but still made the Poland squad. He finished fifth in the 10,000-meter open division with a time of 38:33.
Saturday’s 5,000-meter race was the women’s USAFE qualifier, and marathoner and triathlete Antonia Giraud of Ramstein won it with a time of 20:30.
Although Giraud said the prospect of qualifying led her to enter the 5,000 instead of the 10,000, she would have run Saturday regardless of what was on the line.
“I like coming out at any time,” she said. “It’s always good to check out other runners.”
Final decision on team members for the meet in Poland will be made by USAFE sports officials using the results of this and other races.
Giraud wasn’t sure whether duty commitments would allow her to run in Poland. Her uncertainty pointed out some of the problems military runners face.
“It takes dedication to train,” Gray said, with a gesture toward Jackson. “He and I go out in the woods before daylight with ‘spunk’ lamps on our heads and run the trails.”
Campbell, an air evacuation medic, also has to do some inventive training.
“We’re deployed a lot, but there are always ways to train,” he said. “In Bulgaria, we ran sprints up and down the runway.”
Because he’s a soldier, Campbell, who ran competitively at Northern Idaho, is ineligible for the USAFE team. It’s not the first time circumstances have precluded his running on a larger stage.
“I’ve qualified for the Army 10-Miler (in Washington, D.C.) every year,” Campbell said, “but they’re always on Sundays. God made me fast, so I give Sundays to him.”
USAFE Regional Cross Country
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Medalists Saturday in the USAFE Regional Cross Country Championships here:
Youth 5,000 meters
(17 and younger)
1, Robert Burnett (Ramstein) 19 minutes, 34 seconds; 2, Andrew Oppliger (Baumholder) 19:45; 3, Justin Holiday (Kaiserslautern) 21:48.
Open—1, Antonia Giraud (Ramstein) 20:30; 2, Laurel McMahan (Ramstein) 21:06; 3, Wendy Trimboli (Ramstein) 21:09.
Seniors (35 and older)—1, Jane Albraoff (Ramstein) 25:59; 2, Yvonne Agee (Ramstein) 27:19; 3, Irene Lucas (Landstuhl) 28:38.
Open—1, Vanessa Varoskovic (Ramstein) 46:55; 2, Elizabeth Barnaby (Miesau) 47:32; 3, Amy Bray (Unavailable) 48:58.
Seniors (35 and older)—1, Robyn Chumley (Ramstein) 55:07; 2, Athea Langdon (Landstuhl) 56:21; 3, Stephanie McLaughlin (Ramstein) 56:22.
Open—1, Paul Grifddon (Ramstein) 18:54; 2, John Gunther (Ramstein) 18:57; 3, Nathan Campbell (Sembach) 20:25.
Seniors (35 and older)—1, Jason Fromm (Ramstein) 20:01; 2, Bradford Berry (Ramstein) 22:42; 3, Patrick Goodman (Kaiserslautern) 24:17.
Open—1, Joe Campbell (Landstuhl) 35:17; 2, Kyle Southard (Ramstein) 36:02; 3, Barry Brill (Ansbach) 37:03.
Seniors (35 and older)—1, Donnie Gray (Ramstein) 37:18; 2, Tenhue Gladstone (Kaiserslautern) 37:41; Karl Gruner (Ramstein) 41:06.