Sports: In France, two Mildenhall workers run their first marathon
RAF MILDENHALL — “Many have the will to win,” the sports adage goes. “Few have the will to prepare to win.”
Be it Bear Bryant or Bobby Knight who said it first, that chestnut needs just a tweak to apply to Courtney Arnett and Kelly Ewert.
They weren’t trying to win the Marathon de Paris 2008 on April 6 in the City of Light. That would require a kind of fanaticism that only the most hardcore runners possess.
But make no mistake, Arnett and Ewert trained hard. That volatile basketball legend Bobby Knight probably would agree that they had the will to prepare. And true to Knight’s ruminations, they said the preparation was the worst part.
For four months the two friends gritted out the training needed to complete the 26-mile jog through Paris.
“The training is the hardest thing,” said Ewert, who works at Mildenhall’s Child Development Center. “If we could just show up on the day, we’d do it again.”
Life tends to get in the way of marathons, the two said.
“We didn’t do anything for four months,” Ewert said. “We were just running.”
The idea of running the marathon first came to Ewert, and she then pitched it to Arnett, her fitness instructor at the Mildenhall gym.
Neither had run a marathon before.
The pair ran about 40 miles a week during training, including grueling Saturday runs that comprised numerous laps around Mildenhall’s flight line.
All the training took them away from their husbands and families, Arnett said, but both said their loved ones were pretty accommodating.
“He said it was worse than when I was pregnant,” Ewert said, laughing. “I complained more.”
The marathon route took them from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Elysées and throughout the city, Arnett said.
They made an agreement before the run that they’d stick together, she said.
“To do it with a friend by your side makes you keep going,” Arnett said. “We decided beforehand that we’d stay together and have a better chance of finishing.”
Arnett said that those conventionally fit types who hone their bodies in the gym are not necessarily at an advantage in an endurance campaign such as the marathon. It requires a different kind of fitness.
“A lot of people in muscular shape were far behind,” she said. “I was surprised.”
The last four miles were the worst, said Ewert, doubly proud of her run after having a baby a few years ago.
“We literally crossed the finish line and were like ‘We’re never doing this again,’” she said.
They finished with a mark of about 6 hours. The female winner of the marathon crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 33 seconds.
Now that it’s over and the leg pain subsiding, Arnett and Ewert said they’re happy they were able to accomplish what they set out to do, with neither giving in.
That’s something worth preparing for.
“You have such a sense of accomplishment, and it’s an experience to look back on,” Arnett said. “I ran a marathon in Paris.”