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Reservist finds strength in running

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Air Force reservist Rachel Burns of Clovis during one of her many running competitions. Burns is a finalist looking for votes to be the September cover model for Women’s Running magazine. She is one of nine finalists from a field of 1,800 entrants selected for her essay on how she found her strength to finish a grueling marathon.

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Rachel Burns’ first run was where she found her strength. Now the Clovis Air Force reservist is running for the cover of a national magazine.

Burns, 29, is one of nine runners picked from among about 1,800 others competing to be the September cover model of Women’s Running magazine. Each submitted an essay on when, while competing in a race, and how they found their inner strength.

Burns said winning the magazine cover shot is determined by which of the nine runners receives the most votes from Women’s Running magazine readers. Here is a link to vote:

Burns’ winning essay was about her strong moment discovered while competing in the March 2010 Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon at White Sands in Alamogordo.

“It was my first race and since then I've competed in three half marathons and countless 5Ks and 10Ks,” said Burns.

Her winning essay:

I didn't think the word “strong” applied to me until I participated in the military heavy division of the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon. The race covered 26.2 miles in full military battle dress uniform while carrying a rucksack with about 40 pounds of weight.

I wasn't nearly prepared enough, but I was determined to see the marathon through, especially after I had the opportunity to shake hands with actual Bataan Death March survivors. Their courageous story put my discomfort in proper perspective and sustained me during my own physical challenge in honor of their sacrifice.

Toward the end of the race, my feet were covered in blisters, my hips ached from the weight of my ruck, and my endurance was waning from the previous miles uphill in sand, but with the help of my teammates I pushed through the pain and the fatigue to victoriously cross the finish line. I was utterly spent and just about cried from relief as I peeled off my rucksack and received my finisher medal. Nonetheless, I’ve never felt more elated! That day, I found my strong and discovered I can indeed achieve great things.