NEWS | June 15, 2021

VNG Soldiers compete for spot on All-Guard Marathon Team

By Mike Vrabel Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Five Virginia National Guard Soldiers competed for a spot on the elite All-Guard Marathon Team during National Guard Marathon Time Trials, held during the Lincoln Marathon May 2, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nearly 200 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 42 U.S. states and territories ran in the event. 

Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez, the Virginia Army National Guard master fitness coordinator, ran in the event, as did Capt. Dustin Smith, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gregg Whistler, Staff Sgt. Michael Martin and Sgt. James Potteiger. Ultimately, none of the five VNG participants made the All-Guard team, despite running strong races. Potteiger led the Virginia contingent with a finishing time of 3 hours, 33 minutes and two seconds, a personal best despite the challenges of the last year. 

“While the pandemic created training challenges, the atmosphere in Lincoln motivated me to run my best marathon yet," said Potteiger. 

While some of the VNG runners have participated in the time trials on multiple occasions, the team is open to anyone who wishes to participate. Smith was a first-time participant in the event, but the positives he took from the experience will bring him back again. 

“The team camaraderie and coaching provided by Abreu-Perez really improved my running ability and has made me want to come back every year,” said Smith. 

The All-Guard trials are held annually and have been run at the Lincoln Marathon every year since 1984, except for in 2020. Because of adjustments made because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s race was held in Omaha, Nebraska. 

The top 50 males and top 20 females under the age of 50 who met time requirements qualified for a spot on the All-Guard Marathon Team, as well as the top three males and females over the age of 50 who met time requirements. The All-Guard team will now compete at multiple marathon events across the country. 

“These events are not only great recruiting and retention tools for Soldiers who compete in these events, but also for those they get to connect with as they travel across the country competing,” said Smith. 

Abreu-Perez hopes that with more participation in future events, Virginia can improve on this year’s strong showing. 

“I am really hoping that we can increase the awareness of the existence of this programs and get more participation,” said Abreu-Perez. “We have a lot of hidden talent within our organization.”

The Ohio National Guard led all states and territories with six All-Guard team selections. Arkansas National Guard Sgt. Derek Yorek placed first among National Guard men, with a time of 2 hours, 36 minutes and 52 seconds. Idaho National Guard Maj. Laura Newell placed first among women, with a time of 3 hours, 20 minutes and 53 seconds. 

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