RICHMOND, Va. –
In 2020, Staff Sgt. James A. Potteiger ran his first marathon in Richmond, Virginia. When he signed up, he was still new to the recreational running world. He’d put his speed to the test during a few local 5Ks, but in signing up for the Richmond Marathon, he took things to the next level. He signed up for the Richmond Challenge, which meant he’d run not just the Richmond Marathon, but the Richmond Half Marathon and 8K as well. His time for the marathon that year was 5:21:11, with a pace of more than 12 minutes per mile.
“I did not train nor was I prepared to take on 26.2 miles,” said Potteiger, a 92Y Unit Supply Specialist for the Virginia National Guard’s Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, on his first marathon experience. “I was very upset with my results and decided it was time for me to put in the work and get a better time.”
Shortly after his Richmond Marathon experience, Potteiger saw a notice from the Virginia National Guard’s Holistic Health and Fitness Coordinator, Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez, calling for runners to run the Lincoln Marathon in Nebraska in May. Since 1984, the Lincoln Marathon has served as the official time trial for the All-Guard Marathon Team and each year includes Soldiers and Airmen from nearly every state. Potteiger was hesitant to sign-up. He’d have just five months to train for the Lincoln Marathon, but, he was set on improving his time and running more marathons.
“I trained extremely hard for the 2021 Lincoln Marathon. I did my research to help me prepare better,” he said. “I ran a 3:33:22, which was almost two hours faster than the marathon I ran five months prior.”
While his time on his second marathon proved a huge improvement over his first, it still wasn’t fast enough to land him a spot on the All-Guard Marathon Team. But, by that point, Potteiger was determined. He continued his training and earlier this year, back in May, in Lincoln, Nebraska, he ran a 3:11:05 and snagged a spot on the All-Guard Marathon Team.
“It was great to set a goal and see all the hard work pay off,” he said on making the team. Now, he gets to travel across the country and represent not just his home state of Virginia, but the entire National Guard.
According to a story by the National Guard, this year’s Lincoln Marathon was the first time in more than three decades that Soldiers and Airmen from “all 54” - the 50 states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia - were represented at the race. Seventy-eight runners make up the All-Guard Marathon Team: 51 males, 21 females and the top three male and female runners in the over-50 Masters category, whose admission onto the team is determined by their showing at the Lincoln Marathon.
Today, when Potteiger trains for a marathon, he slowly builds mileage week after week. He usually starts his week with a short run and then, on Sunday, tackles his weekly long run. In between are a few rest days and other runs focused on building speed and endurance. He pays attention to his diet while he’s training, makes sure he warms up appropriately and stretches, too.
Next, Potteiger will tackle the Richmond Half Marathon on Nov. 11, 2023. He won’t be racing for time, but will use it as a training run for his next race with the All-Guard Marathon Team, the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 19, 2023.
“My overall goal is to run a sub-3-hour marathon and qualify for Boston,” Potteiger said of his plans for the new fiscal year.
For anyone wanting to improve their run time or train for a race, Potteiger suggests they, “get the right shoes, stretch and set a goal.”
Anyone interested in being part of the next All-Guard Marathon Team in 2025, please contact Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez at email@example.com