Happy Hooligan completes Fargo Marathon from Iraq
By Capt Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 11, 2009
Iraq -- An Airman from the North Dakota Air National Guard currently serving in Iraq fulfilled a promise to a dear friend and a pledge to his parents when he completed the Fargo Marathon on Saturday.
Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz of the 119th Wing Security Forces Squadron and native of Fargo ran in the marathon with two of his co-workers, Staff Sgt. Sonny Hernandez, from the 445th SFS based out of Ohio and Kavuma Richard, a contractor from Uganda, Africa.
Ruiz and Hernandez finished the race together with a score of 4:53:03. Richard finished the race with the score of 3:18:32.
"Kavuma Richard is an anomaly. He was only 8 and a half minutes shy of a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. He definitely has a gift," said Ruiz.
This was a first full marathon for all three individuals. Hernandez and Richard decided to train and run with Ruiz when they heard about the flooding in North Dakota.
"I felt helpless not being home to help the North Dakota Air Guard with the flood this year. I decided to dedicate this run to the victims, volunteers and National Guard members who worked so hard," said Ruiz.
"When Sonny and Kavauma heard my story, they wanted to run too."
In addition to dedicating the run to the flood efforts, Ruiz also fulfilled a promise he made to his friend and a pledge to his parents, Pedro and Francisca Ruiz of Halstead, Minn. that he would complete the Fargo Marathon this year - regardless of his location.
"I'm grateful that we finished the run and for all the support we received throughout the event. It felt like being back home in Fargo where everyone is always willing and ready to help each other out," said Ruiz.
Staff Sgt. Audrey L. Farder, 119th SFS, from Alvardo, Minn. followed the trio in a vehicle throughout the entire race. In addition, Tech. Sgt. Todd P. Seguin, 119th SFS, from Fargo jumped in and ran with Ruiz and Hernandez the last six miles giving them the much needed motivation to the finish line.
"Overall it was a good run and we finished strong. The only thing that occurred unplanned was that I ended up in the medical unit severally dehydrated and had to have two bags of IV solution pumped into my body. But that was to be expected with the weather here and how difficult it is to gage the heat. It snuck up on me," said Ruiz.
Ruiz plans to continue his aggressive running schedule throughout the remainder of his deployment in Iraq. His next goal is to become the first Airman at the base there to complete the 1,000 mile runners club prior to returning home to North Dakota later this summer.
"I'm already looking forward to the next marathon," said Ruiz. "I plan to run in the Air Force marathon at Wright Paterson Air Force Base in Ohio on September 19. I am looking to improve my time," said Ruiz.
For more information about this news release, please contact Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs Officer, at 701-451-2194.
To see the previous news release about Tech. Sgt. Sam A. Ruiz, please visit the 119th Wing public website: www.119wg.ang.af.mil