Military feature: Airman tackles marathon

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Staff Sgt. Lucas Newman says he didn’t like running until he was deployed to Iraq.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Lucas Newman never really liked running until his first sergeant talked him into a 5-kilometer race two years ago during a deployment to Iraq.

The Cannon Air Force Base staff sergeant discovered it helped pass the time and brought him a sense of accomplishment during two Iraq deployments.

“I really hated running, actually, until I got to Iraq the first time,” said the weapons specialist, who completed his most recent deployment in January. “Deployments can be really stressful and a lot of people devote their time to something physical just to pass the time.”

Newman said he listens to sermons on his iPod for inspiration while he runs, tracking his progress on a GPS unit he carries. He is scheduled to participate in the Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

“I really enjoy the act of running — the more I ran the more I realized I’d really like to get a marathon under my belt,” he said.

The Tennessee native chose to participate in the marathon so he could see his family and have them there when he crosses the finish line.

“They’ve been really excited. They’ve been really supportive and really excited to see me finish (and) to see them at the finish line — that’s a huge motivation,” the 23-year-old said. “(The marathon is) giving us more to look forward to when we get together.”

Erica Newman of Knoxville, Tenn. said it’s not surprising her brother embraced a sport he once disliked.

“It kind of threw me off when he said he was so into it, but he has always been the kind of person that does the one thing you never expected him to do and then he does it so well,” she said. “He’s just an amazing person all the way around.”

Having her big brother leave home to join the military and seeing the toll deployments took on him has been difficult, she said.

“He’s my hero,” she said.

Erica Newman said she wouldn’t miss the chance to be at the race with other family members to cheer him on.

“I’m excited to see him do this, 26 miles to me is far. I’m pretty excited.”