Wintery Sawtooth Relay draws Air Guard runners in droves

  • Published
  • By By Capt. Tony Vincelli
  • 124th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
At exactly 3 a.m. on the morning of June 9, Tom Hine, husband of security forces Staff Sgt. Kathleen Hine, took off from the Stanley Elementary School parking lot into the chilly darkness.

As the lead runner of "For Wallace", one of the Idaho Air Guard-sponsored teams to lace up running shoes to take part in the 21st Annual Sawtooth Relay, Hine and his teammates were running for more than the spirit of teamwork or sense of accomplishment that comes from completing the 62 miles from Stanley to Ketchum.

They were running for one of their own.

Master Sgt. Dennis Wallace, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient and former first sergeant of the 124th Security Forces Squadron, died of cancer in 2010. To honor his example of physical fitness, teamwork and the warrior spirit, Hine and security forces Staff Sgts. Jason D'Elia, David Steiner, Mikel Turner, Taylor Young and Staff Sgt. Robert Barney from the wing public affairs shop ran for 10 hours through snow, rain and sleet over elevations as high as 8,700 feet.

"We had a lot of non-runners who pushed through the weather, terrain and self-doubt and did amazing," said Sergeant D'Elia.

Runners and volunteers from several other teams echoed the sentiment, as it seemed the adverse weather did more to embolden the runners than dampen their spirit -- or their sense of humor, as evidenced by some of the more colorful team names, such as: 124th Steak Sauce, Mud Butts I and II, Lumbering Destruction, and, my personal favorite, My Drinking Club Has a Running Problem.

According to Idaho Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Pete Glick, a veteran of the relay and the man in charge of ensuring the $360 team fee was paid for by the wing's Morale, Welfare and Recreation fund, participation ballooned to 13 sponsored and one unsponsored team representing various squadrons, units and sections of the Idaho Air Guard.

"Positive feedback from those who've run in previous years, the increased focus on physical fitness and the chance to get out and enjoy some great Idaho scenery are quickly making this the MWR event of the year," said the chief, who ran in his fifth Sawtooth Relay this year as part of Team Mighty Spuds.

Split into 12 legs, six runners typically take two legs of the race each with an average distance of 5.3 miles per leg. The all-day event is a great chance for teams to get to know one another, since it usually takes 9 to 12 hours to complete.

"We finally competed in the race with a team comprised entirely of ASOS personnel. It was a great team-building and morale event that we plan on continuing for years to come," said 2nd Lt. Gregory Kirk, 124th Air Support Operations Squadron and captain of Team 124th Steak Sauce.

Congratulations to the runners and volunteers of the following teams for making the Idaho Air National Guard the single largest participating organization in the 2012 Sawtooth Relay:

For Wallace
Hawg Smoke
Strangers With Candy
124th Steak Sauce
Mighty Spuds
Lumbering Destruction
190FS I
190FS II
190FS IV
Mud Butts
Mud Butts II
Range Runners
My Drinking Club Has a Running Problem