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Air Force elite runner Payne finishes 9th in NYC Marathon

  • Published
  • By Maj. Stephen Raham
  • 458th Airlift Squadron

Instead of sleeping in, cooking up a big breakfast and watching some football, Maj. Ben Payne from the 200th Airlift Squadron laced up his running shoes and prepared to run the best race of his life in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6.

Payne, who is currently training on Scott Air Force Base with the 458th Airlift Squadron, made time for the intense training that helped him cross the finish line 9th out of 51,388, which went on record as being the largest marathon to be held in the world. Payne ran between 90-100 miles a week, in addition to cross-training, stretching, partaking in yoga, and treating himself to massages.

“I’m running the fastest times of my life at 35 years old,” said Payne.

The marathon was Payne’s 11th, where he ran an average mile pace of 5:11. His lowest split clocked in at a 4:57 pace during mile 16 of the course. Payne earned a personal record with a time of 2:15:46, finishing 4th out of the USA males.

“Running has always been a part of my daily routine, so I’m going to find a way to do it, whether I’m in Afghanistan or Colorado,” said Payne.

Payne’s first marathon was 10 years ago when he ran the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon in 2:28. In February of 2016, he qualified for NYC Marathon’s elite category by running a 2:18:37 during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles.

“I think resiliency is something you have to have in the military, and that’s something that’s come around as a positive thing for my running career ... helping make it work no matter where I’m at,” Payne said.

For Payne, running helps him to be better in all facets of life, including the military side. Payne is a member of the Colorado Air National Guard based at Peterson AFB in Colorado but is on orders at Scott attending training with the 458th Airlift Squadron's C-21 Formal Training Unit.

He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2004, has over 3,400 flight hours, 1,200 combat hours and is a member of the U.S. Military Endurance Sports Team Elite Program. Payne recently transitioned from active duty, where his last tour was as a member of the Air Force's World Class Athlete Program, a two-year assignment designed to allow Airmen that have qualified for the Olympics to train in their respective sport.