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Chinook Pilot Qualifies for All Guard Marathon Team

CW2 Amanda Nesbitt and her son Dathan
Photo by Beth Cardwell Photography

CW2 Amanda Nesbitt

The Chinook is the fastest helicopter in service in the United States Army. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Amanda Nesbitt, a Chinook pilot with Bravo Company, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, recently showed she is among the fastest soldiers on the ground also.

Nesbitt qualified for the All Guard Marathon Team at the Lincoln Nebraska Marathon held May 5, 2013.

“The top 15 women and the top 40 men qualified for the team,” said Nesbitt. “There was no qualifying time. The fastest runners made the team.”

Nesbitt ran the marathon in three hours and 43 minutes. She was 14th among the 15 women who qualified for the team.

“I just made it,” she said.

A feat she accomplished in with just six months of training that began less than a year after the birth of her son, Dathan.

Nesbitt is 29 years old and has been in the Army for 12 years. She enlisted in high school, first serving in a communications unit in Allentown. She earned a bachelor's degree from East Stroudsburg University in 2008. Nesbitt ran in college but did not run marathons.

After college came a succession of big events. She went to flight school in 2009 and became a Chinook pilot in November 2010. Just over a year later in February of 2012, her son was born.

“I had a baby last year so I knew it was not going to be easy to make the team,” Nesbitt said. “Sometimes I ran alone at night with my pepper spray, 18 miles around and around our neighborhood, but I was determined to make it. And the team was rooting for me.”

Her husband, Drew, also an avid runner, supported Amanda’s marathon ambition.

“Drew made it possible for me to put in the time to train,” Nesbitt said. “He supported me the whole way.”

“I tried to make the (marathon) team five years ago, but Pennsylvania did not have the running base it does now,” Nesbitt said.

Her first marathon humbled her.

“At mile 18 I was hurting,” she said.

She finished with a 4-hour, 17-minute time and put away her marathon goals until late 2012.

She signed up for the event even before she knew if Pennsylvania could take her.

“I figured I would go by myself if I had to,” Nesbitt said.

The All Guard Team includes the Army and Air Guard and represents all 50 states plus Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Nesbitt said the top overall female qualifier was Senior Airman Emily Shertzer of Pennsylvania who ran the 26.2-mile distance in three hours and one minute.

“Emily has been to the Olympic Trials,” Nesbitt said.

Three of the 15 women and four of the 40 men who qualified for the All Guard Marathon Team are from Pennsylvania. With seven of the 55 runners from the Keystone State, Pennsylvania has the largest team of all the states.

“Pennsylvania was also the first place team at the qualifying race,” she said.

“I went into the race wanting a 3:40 (time),” she said. “I knew it would not be easy 'post baby.' I ran a 3:43 this time. I'm OK with that. Next year I want to run in the 3:20s.”

Now that she is on the team, Nesbitt will be able to choose races she will compete in during the coming year.

“The Army Ten-Miler and Boston are on the list,” she said.

Nesbitt last competed in the Army Ten-Miler in 2011 when she was six-months pregnant.

“I was not that fast, but my time was good enough to help the Pennsylvania team win the National Guard category,” she said. “It was cool to get the trophy from a general.”

The All Guard Marathon Team goes to marathons and half-marathons around the country and represents the National Guard Recruiting Command.

“I have heard we also march in parades and run relays,” she said. “And we go to the Expos before events.”

“We have red and white running uniforms and bright yellow warm-up outfits. No one is going to miss us,” Nesbitt said.

Bravo Company, 2-104th GSAB, is currently deployed to Afghanistan. Nesbitt is a reserve pilot serving on rear detachment. She could be activated and join her unit at any time, and she is ready for that marathon, if she is called.

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