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Staff Sgts. Jason and Monica Russi warm up for a training run recently in the final days before Oct. 31, when they plan to run the Adidas Dublin Marathon in Ireland. The couple is using the effort to raise funds for cancer research.
Staff Sgts. Jason and Monica Russi warm up for a training run recently in the final days before Oct. 31, when they plan to run the Adidas Dublin Marathon in Ireland. The couple is using the effort to raise funds for cancer research. (Ben Murray / S&S)
Staff Sgts. Jason and Monica Russi warm up for a training run recently in the final days before Oct. 31, when they plan to run the Adidas Dublin Marathon in Ireland. The couple is using the effort to raise funds for cancer research.
Staff Sgts. Jason and Monica Russi warm up for a training run recently in the final days before Oct. 31, when they plan to run the Adidas Dublin Marathon in Ireland. The couple is using the effort to raise funds for cancer research. (Ben Murray / S&S)
Monica and Jason Russi.
Monica and Jason Russi. (Ben Murray / S&S)

Jason and Monica Russi don’t always take their greyhound, Atom, out for a run with them.

It’s not because the 3-year-old former racing dog is a handful at the end of the leash or prone to chasing rabbits. It’s just that, well, sometimes he can’t keep up.

“I’ve taken him on a couple of six-mile runs with me, but usually he poops out at about four,” Monica said. “He’ll just start slowing down, or sometimes he just stops and starts sniffing around,” she added.

The husband-and-wife team at RAF Mildenhall will put their ability to outrun a greyhound to work for a good cause next week. They will be running to raise money for cancer research at the Adidas Dublin Marathon 2005 in Ireland.

Jason and Monica, both staff sergeants and air traffic control watch supervisors with the 100th Operations Support Squadron, said they have been training to take the 26.2-mile plunge since this summer, when they began running 30 to 35 miles a week.

But more recently, while surfing the Web site for the Dublin Marathon, Jason said he came across a link that inspired him and Monica to add another dimension to their upcoming run, one for Cancer Research UK.

Because Jason and Monica have family members who have battled cancer, the idea of making the marathon double as a fundraiser just clicked, Jason said.

“I’ve got an aunt who had a bout with cancer, so I felt that, on a personal level, it would be a good thing,” he said. Monica agreed, and the pair are now hoping to raise 500 pounds (about $875) before Monday’s run.

The push for sponsorship, however, is just one part of preparations that have taken up much of what little time the pair is able to spend together.

Because they work at an air traffic control tower that operates 24 hours a day, the two are often on opposing day and night shifts, with just a few odd hours to spend together in between, Jason said.

“It’s passing ships in the night most of the time,” he said.

But the training hasn’t stopped.

“It makes for lots of three-in-the-morning runs,” Monica said.

In the week before the big race, both runners said they think their training has been enough to get them through the race — though not without a price.

On a 16-mile training run in September, Monica suffered a stress fracture in her foot, which has cut down her mileage in recent weeks. Jason, too, said he wasn’t positive he’d put in enough miles to make his sub-four-hour goal time.

“Even if you fizzle out and have to get carried in, it’s not a lost cause,” Jason said.

The fundraising aspect has given the Russis something else to run for, they said. About a week before the race, the couple was still about $615 shy of their goal. Anyone interested in a last-minute donation can contact them at: Jason.Russi@Mildenhall.af.mil

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