Not once by twice; Chaplain runs marathon

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez
  • 108th Wing / Public Affairs Office
 Everyone has an epiphany once in a while. You can be at a baseball game watching your favorite team play, or you can be at a Broadway play. It doesn't matter where it happens, but somehow, someway you get that "eureka!" moment. And if the epiphany is significant enough, it may change your life.

  For Capt. David A. Leung-Kahler, that moment came to him almost seven years ago, and he can now cross out 'running a marathon' from his bucket-list.
  One night he was watching one of those Dateline shows and he saw an out-of-shape and overweight person running a marathon, said Leung-Kahler, 35, a chaplain with the 108th Wing out of Joint Base-McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

  "If this person can do it, so can I," said Leung-Kahler.

  He said he was out of shape and needed to lose some weight. So he went online and found a training regiment for a marathon and began training for the 2004 Philadelphia marathon.

  His six-month training was difficult, he said. But the hardest part was just finding the time to get in the long runs and put in the daily effort.

  "There are days when you don't want to do the runs," said Leung-Kahler. But he found the time around his busy schedule as a pastor for the Griggstown Reformed Church at Princeton, N.J., and ran on a trail near his church.

  His congregation saw him running just about every day, said Leung-Kahler, who resides in Hopewell.
  And his wife, Pauline, told him she was glad he was doing the marathon because she wouldn't want to run it herself, he said.

  So after six grueling months of training, he ran and completed the Philadelphia marathon in 4:34:24.

  "It felt great and I was pleased," said Leung-Kahler.

  Having accomplished his goal, he continued running three miles a day to stay in shape and be prepared for the Air Force's annual physical test. 
  "I was not planning to do another marathon," Leung-Kahler said.

  But somehow he changed his mind and once again began the grueling training routine to run the 2010 U.S. Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio scheduled on Sept. 18.

  He didn't train as intensely as his first marathon, he said as his goal was just to finish the marathon.

  But his biggest challenge was running the marathon with very little sleep and rest as he had just arrived home Friday Sept. 17, from the Wing's operational readiness exercise at the Combat Readiness Training Center, located at Alpena Air National Guard Base, Alpena, Mich.

  "Right after we landed, I got into my car and drove straight through to Ohio," he said.

  He didn't do as well as he had hope he would, but given the lack of sleep and little rest, he was still able to finish the marathon and pose for a victory photo at the finish line.

  "In the Philadelphia marathon I was bent over with exhaustion at the finish line when they took the photo," Leung-Kahler said. "This time I wanted to pose with my hands raised in the air, so I did."

  So after a two-hour nap on the lawn of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, he gathered himself and began the eight hour drive back home.

  "A lot of coffee and rest stops along the way," he said.

  He said he is now running for recreational purposes and to stay in shape. But who knows, there is always a marathon somewhere that might be calling him. 
  And just maybe he might get another "eureka!" moment.