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From An F-15 To The U.S. Olympic Trials

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jan. 12, 2012
  • Updated Jan. 12, 2012 at 10:54 PM UTC
F-15 pilot Caroline White will toe the line in Houston this weekend. Photo: USATF

One Air Force Academy graduate breaks the marathon mold.

F-15 pilot Caroline White will toe the line in Houston this weekend. Photo: USATF

Caroline White is not your typical elite marathoner. This Saturday, the Air Force Academy graduate will be toeing the line in Houston with the hopes of making the U.S. Olympic marathon squad that heads to London this summer.

Her story is anything but typical. While in high school, she was the furthest thing from a top-class distance runner: a pole vaulter.

As a freshman at the Academy, White changed disciplines, joining the Air Force parachute team. She quickly moved through the ranks in that domain, becoming a jumpmaster with over 600 jumps, including landing on a football field with a game ball.

After graduating from the Academy, White became an F-15 pilot–a rare assignment for a female.

“After my assignment, this woman came up to me and said, ‘I don’t even know you, but I cried when you got your assignment. I am so happy for you.’ That really touched me,” White recalls.

She’s now doing marathons. After debuting with a 3:09 at the Philadelphia Marathon, she’s progressed to 2:37:30 at the Boston Marathon last year, becoming the fifth American woman there.

For More: USATF

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at Competitor.com and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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