SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When Seth Cannello, Schriever Sports and Fitness director, and Steve Steinke, fitness cell monitor, first hung the Schriever fitness record board early in 2010, they expected the 1.5-mile-run record to be hotly contested. After all, nearly every active-duty and reservist Airman is required to run the distance officially as part of their annual fitness assessment(s).
But, that's not how the action played out for the better part of two years.
Maj. Marcus Corbett, 310th Security Forces Squadron, was the initial record holder when the board went up, running six laps around the base track in 8 minutes, 4 seconds. Maj. Mark Scherbarth, 14th Test Squadron, stared at that record for nearly 18 months before eclipsing it with a run of 8 minutes flat this past July 10.
Now, the 1.5-mile-run record has fallen twice in as many months. Corbett cut nine seconds off Scherbarth's effort and reclaim the coveted top spot Oct. 4 when he crossed the finish line 7:51.
"I think it took awhile for word to reach me," Corbett said. "I walked into work one day, late in July, when a couple of guys in my squadron handed me a copy of the base newspaper story about Scherbarth's effort. They thought it was funny and showed it to me with great ceremony. Of course, they knew it would get my blood up."
Corbett hung the cut-out story above his workstation as a constant reminder and motivator for his upcoming fitness assessment, some two months away at that point. He also embarked on a new training regimen in preparation.
"I had just completed my first Ironman triathlon in June so I had been training for long distances," he said. "For the 1.5 mile run, I needed to ramp up my speed work. My first few runs were awful. It took some time to get my speed back."
Corbett, a U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School soccer coach, explained that for the 1.5-mile run, he trained to improve performance of his fast-twitch muscles.
"I hadn't even been on the track in six months," he said. "But, by the end of this 1.5-mile run training I was doing two track workouts a week, running at a sustained hard pace, targeting high-end speed with shorter runs and then alternating with race-pace runs."
His goal was to finish in 7:48 and would have reached it, if not for a 3-second lapse on his fourth lap.
Cannello predicted Scherbarth's record wouldn't last back in July because he knew Corbett was due for a fitness assessment soon after.
"That's the reason we initiated the record board, to inspire people to go faster," he said. "Not only have these two pushed themselves to new heights, they've inspired others to raise their performances. People hang out and watch that electronic board every day. It creates a buzz around these records and accomplishments."
Corbett said he doesn't expect the new record to last long either.
"One thing I've learned about running is there's always somebody faster," he said. "I don't think people expected a couple of reservists in their mid 30s to battle for this record, but that's the way it's turned out so far."
As for advice or tips for others who want to improve on their run times, Corbett recommended Airmen train in any way that encourages consistency.
"Training a few weeks before a test is no way to prepare," he said. "I tell people that fitness needs to be a lifestyle and consistently doing something is fundamental. If someone can't stand to go out and run on a trail, they need to find a better place to run, even a treadmill can be beneficial."