by Airman 1st Class Christopher Thornbury
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
8/19/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- It's
early morning, the sun is bright and warm but the air is still cool.
Sitting on the maroon colored track, he slides his bright-red running
shoes over his foot, grabbing each lace and begins to tie a knot. After
preparation, he begins his workout.
Capt. Daniel Castle, 349th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, is one of five
Airmen selected throughout the Air Force to participate in the World
Class Athlete Program, which allows service members of all branches to
train as their primary duty.
Castle will be spending the next year to training for the 2016 Olympics 1500 meter race.
"One of my dreams that I have always had is to try and make it to an Olympic team," said Castle.
Castle graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs,
Colorado in 2009 and will be heading back to train at the Olympic
training center. He will train with his former coach Juli Benson, U.S.
Air Force Academy cross country head coach and track and field assistant
coach, who specializes in middle and distance runners.
During the yearlong training, Castle will be running nine to 10 times a
week, an hour to an hour and a half at a time totaling 70 to 80 miles
each week. Some days will consist of long runs ranging from 15-18 miles;
relatively short distances, such as four to five miles at his aerobic
threshold; sprinting different lengths from 200 to 400 meters; as well
as lift weights three to four times a week.
Running has been a part of Castles daily routine for several years now.
Even with the hectic duty day as a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot he makes
sure he contributes to his goal each day. He often runs during lunch
breaks or at 10 and 11 p.m. if the day doesn't flex to his schedule.
His highly competitive running career started in college. His senior
year, he set the Air Force Academy record, placed 15th in the NCAA and
20th in the U.S. However, running is more than just a friendly
competition to Castle.
"Running is something I'm very passionate about, not only for the chance
to compete," said Castle. "It's my conduit to decompress from all the
stresses in life and I believe in being world class by pushing myself to
do the best in everything that I do."
After graduating college, he didn't slow down. Within a year, he
completed his Master's degree and continued running 40 to 60 miles each
"Determination, the idea of chasing dreams and the Air Force core values
have built Castle into the Airman he is today," said Staff Sgt.
Shalamar Coleman, 22nd Mission Support Group group administration NCO in
The Olympics are a year away, and in the meantime, Castle will represent
the U.S. in the World Military Games, a competition between the
countries across the world service members form a team to compete
against each other, this October, in South Korea.
Aside from his goals as a runner, he plans to continue his Air Force
career by becoming an instructor at the Academy, so he can inspire
younger Airmen to chase their dreams.
"I would love to be able to teach and mentor the next generation of Air
Force officers," said Castle. "To fuel the fire of living passionately."
His drive and desire to improve himself and others comes from his beliefs in the Air Force core values.
'"Excellence in all we do,' I really believe in that," said Castle. "I
believe that it is the foundation to a life that is worth living, which
has helped driven me to continue running; despite five deployments; many
temporary duty assignments; being my best as an officer, leader and
Airman. Making time to work out and run every day under the foundation
of excellence is what has allowed me this chance, six years later."