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AGTS Employee Finishes 26.2 Mile Marathon

For most of us, the thought of running more than a few miles while not being chased by a herd of stampeding bulls, a mad man with a chain saw, or a mother with a mouth full of spit intent on wiping the chocolate off our faces is simply outlandish. Furthermore, for someone to choose of their own accord to run a 26.2 mile marathon is incomprehensible.

AGTS CAMS manager David Godzwa, a 2001 AGTS alum (pictured in yellow), accepted the challenge energetically. He and his twin brother, Mike, finished the Washington DC Marathon, March 24, 2002, in 3 hours, 57 minutes and 11 seconds.

David, age 27, says he has always enjoyed running. The brothers ran their first 10k when they were just 11 years old. It wasn't until 1998, however, when his doctor expressed concern about his high blood pressure and a 20 lb. weight gain that he decided to start a disciplined running program. "Now that those areas are under control," says David, "running has taken on a new importance. I discovered that running had become my time to get away from the everyday. It has served as my prayer time, my thinking time, and my time of escape. So now, I look forward to heading out the door for my morning runs more than ever."

There are some legitimate reasons for taking up the sport, but why a torturous 26.2 mile marathon? David answers, "The marathon is what you could call the holy grail of running. Not all runners like the marathon, but most runners feel (it) is their stamp of legitimacy (as a runner)." So, if he were to call himself a runner, David would eventually have to run a marathon.

It was his twin brother, Mike, who finally inspired him to enter. "If Oprah Winfrey can run a marathon," said Mike, "so can I." And David responded, "If my twin brother can do it, so can I." A bit of sibling rivalry and a chance to spend some "quality time" with his brother added to David's motivation.

David could not sleep the entire night before the race. He questioned, "Had I trained hard enough? Did I eat the right foods? Will I finish?"

On the morning of the race he and his brother took the metro to the starting line at the Memorial Bridge, just between Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. "The sun was just coming up over the Potomac," he said, "and although there were already hundreds of people there, there was an amazing sense of peace."

David described the race. "Once underway Mike and I had a great time. We were talking with other runners. We were yelling with the crowds, and...telling jokes to keep our moods light. Under the tunnels we would shout "U-S-A," and through the rows of buildings we would clap in rhythm as the echoes reverberated."

"At about mile 21 I began to feel the effects of the run, but Mike kept my focus off of the pain and on the race. At mile 24, when I knew we were going to make it, and I felt the energy of the crowd cheering for us, I began to realize the accomplishment that Mike and I were going to do together. I started to cry. All I thought about was how I would never forget the moment that we were sharing together, and at that moment, even though I was tired, I began to feel that I did not want the race to end."

David believes that running is the perfect analogy of the Christian life. "Christianity is a distance run," David explained. "You cannot rely upon a quick start to get you to the finish line; it is the perseverance that gets you there in the end. When I am running I am reminded of my journey as a Christian, and I am encouraged to go the distance and to finish strong. There are times when I run that I visualize my life. The goal in the run is the finish line; the goal in life is my completion in Christ. As a runner there are physical pains that distract and slow, as there are struggles that beat us down as individuals. But as I keep my eyes on the finish line of the race and the goal of my life, and as I accept the encouragement of the crowds and the people that God has placed around me, I find that I have the strength to finish the race, and to press on in my Christian faith."

David and his brother crossed the finish line in Freedom Plaza stride for stride and hand in hand. "What an honor it was for me to place the finisher's medal around my brother's neck," said David. "We cried and hugged for some time there. All I can say is that it was an amazing experience. It's one that I wish everyone could taste."

On returning to Springfield, David's wife, Kelly, had painted "Way to go!" on a wall in their study, which they were in the process of painting. She and his two children, Rebekah and Joseph, could not have been more proud. Kelly is expecting their third child in November.

David's enthusiasm for running is catching on here at AGTS. Nearly 20 students, faculty and staff members are training for a 5k run to raise money for The Kitchen, a homeless shelter/soup kitchen, in Springfield, Mo.

Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (NIV)

Updated: Friday, June 16, 2006 10:22 AM

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