MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
He wakes up at 4 a.m. every day and runs eight miles. After getting home from work, he runs another eight to twelve miles. He then goes to bed and repeats the process all over again the following day.
This is the life of Airman 1st Class Daniel Kirwa, a medical technician assigned to the 6th Healthcare Operations Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and the fastest long distance runner in the Air Force.
Out of more than 12,000 participants, Kirwa placed first in the military category of the Air Force Marathon, and third overall, with a time of 2 hours, 33 minutes, and 3 seconds.
“I was so excited when I finished the race because I represented the Air Force nicely, which was my main goal,” Kirwa proudly said. “It was a very challenging race, but it felt good to represent something bigger than myself.”
Leading up to the race, Kirwa trained by running nearly 180 miles a week.
“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 explained. “I would do that for six days and take a day break.”
As a Kenya native, Kirwa found his love for running early on during his childhood, where he would commute to school by running three miles followed by another three miles back home. Eventually, he joined his high school track team, where he would run another three to six miles a day.
“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’s journey is one that saw him earn a full scholarship to Harding University in Arkansas, where he won four NCAA Division II National Championship titles in various track and cross country events. A journey that also includes earning 15 All-American honors and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science. A journey that ultimately led him to enlist in the United States Air Force.
“When we run during our flight PT, he will finish first and go back to get everyone who is still going,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Siegel, a medical technician assigned to the 6th HCOS. “By the end, everyone is dead and he’s laughing, having a good time.”
Although Kirwa enjoys running and helping others reach their goals, he understands he needs to improve his time to reach his childhood dream – running 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 added. “I am excited because even though I didn't meet my goal, I now know where I need to improve to reach it.”
Two hours, 19 minutes is the qualifying time to run in the Olympics.
As Kirwa continues to stride toward his Olympic goal, he is scheduled to run two half-marathons, two 5Ks and a 10K in the next couple of months.