Kirwa, a medical technician with the 6th Healthcare Operations Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, ran almost 180 miles a week in preparation for the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio on Sept. 21, 2019.
His rigorous training paid off.
Among those competing in the military category, Kirwa placed first — earning bragging rights as the service’s fastest long distance runner. Out of all participants, he placed third.
“I was so excited when I finished the race because I represented the Air Force nicely, which was my main goal,” said Kirwa, 32, according to a MacDill news release. “It was a very challenging race, but it felt good to represent something bigger than myself.”
Kirwa’s daily training for the marathon started at 4 a.m. when he would wake up to get in an early morning for about an hour. After work, he would clock another, even longer run lasting about two hours.
“The last month before the marathon, I would run 10 miles in the morning before work and between 18 and 20 in the evening,” Kirwa said. “I would do that for six days and take a day break.”
Running has been a part of Kirwa’s daily routine since he was a child. Kirwa, originally from Kenya, would run a total of six miles each day to attend school as a child. An additional three to six miles each day were added on top of that when he joined the high school track team.
He continued running during his college career when he earned a full scholarship to attend Harding University. As a college athlete, Kirwa won four NCAA Division II National Championship titles in multiple track and cross country events.
“When I run, I just think,” Kirwa said. “I reflect on how I started my journey, how far I’ve come, and the people that have helped me along the way.”
Kirwa has no intention of slowing down either. His Air Force Marathon time — 2 hours, 33 minutes, and 3 seconds — is just minutes above the 2 hours and 19 minutes required to qualify for the Olympics.
Kirwa said he is going to continue to push his physical limits and is now training to cut his time so he can fulfill his childhood dream to run in the Olympics.
“My goal for the Air Force Marathon was to run 2 hours, 28 minutes; but my end goal in the next five months is to run sub 2:19,” Kirwa said. “I am excited because even though I didn’t meet my goal, I now know where I need to improve to reach it.”