U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFPN) -- The academy’s Class of 2008 was only 36 miles away from the end of the field portion of basic cadet training.
The second annual Warrior Run began when the first group of cadets moved out at 7:10 a.m. Aug. 5. In all, 1,277 basic cadets and 625 upper-class cadre each ran about three miles of the 36-mile relay.
Starting at the school’s Jacks Valley training area, trainees and cadre headed north on the Santa Fe Trail to Monument, Colo., led by Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida. Participants then turned west and traveled over the Rampart Range on Herman Road, and then headed south through the academy's Farish Recreation Camp. From there, the relay headed east over the mountains along the Shubarth Trail and Stanley Canyon to the cadet area.
The Class of 2008 then formed up at about 2:30 p.m. on the academy's athletic fields and marched onto the Terrazzo for a 3 p.m. finishing ceremony.
Basic cadets were eager to begin the run, aware that the prize they had been working for all summer was now within reach.
“It’s exciting knowing we start school in a week,” said Basic Cadet Christopher Szabolcs of West Lake, Ohio.
For those who were injured during the summer and could not run, the day was bittersweet.
“It’s the culmination of basic cadet training and I don’t get to be a part of it,” said Basic Cadet Laurel Parker, of Boca Raton, Fla., who came to basic training with a torn anterior cruciate ligament from a volleyball injury. “I feel out of the loop.”
It is the ultimate event in reinforcing the benefits of team over self, General Weida said.
"None of the basic cadets could complete the run on their own. But together, running relay for approximately 36 miles over rugged terrain, they can accomplish their goal," he said.
Following the Warrior Run, the last few days of basic cadet training resume in the cadet area, as the trainees take their final steps to becoming members of the Cadet Wing and prepare for the upcoming academic semester. Basic training ends Aug. 10 with the Acceptance Parade, where cadets each swear to abide by the Honor Code, receive their first military rank and are formally accepted into the Cadet Wing.