MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE,
Fla., - Inspiration for the modern
marathon, a 26.2-mile race, stems
from military origins. Legend tells
of a Greek soldier who ran from
Marathon to Athens to deliver
news of the defeated Persian army.
More than two millennia later, one
airman is writing his own story.
Air Force Master Sgt.
Michael Dupertuis, the aircrew
flight equipment superintendent for
the 6th Operations Support
Squadron here, is part of a select
group of athletes driven to compete
in the sport of ultramarathon running.
An ultramarathon is any race
that is longer than the traditional
marathon length of 26.2 miles; typically,
they run between 30 to 100
Though he tackles the distance
now, Dupertuis never
planned to become a serious runner,
let alone an ultramarathon athlete.
“The Big D Marathon in
Dallas, Texas, was eye-opening.
By about mile 18 my body started
breaking down,” Dupertuis said,
recalling how unforgiving the
pavement had been.
After he completed his first
traditional street marathon, Dupertuis
said he never intended to continue
running. But he did.
His interest in running
began while stationed at Moody
Air Force Base, Georgia, where he
says he was introduced to trail running
during daily physical training.
“I’ve always enjoyed being
outside and running in the woods,”
Dupertuis said. “It’s quieter, less
crowded and lets me enjoy the
wildlife and terrain around me.”
Dupertuis said he continued
trail running after he changed duty
stations. The more he ran, he said,
the more he enjoyed the sport.
With the support of a nearby trail
running community and his family,
Dupertuis attempted his first ultramarathon.
“I started running ultramarathons
because I wanted to prove
to myself and others that I could,”
Dupertuis said. “I had already run a
marathon, and I figured that 50
kilometers wasn’t much further.”
But, he said, his first ultramarathon,
a 50-kilometer event,
started off on the wrong foot -- a
failure he believes to be the result
of inadequate preparation.
“I was going back out to do
the last eight miles and I tripped;
caught my toe and my legs
cramped up,” he said. “Everything
cramped up and I was exhausted. I
pushed through because my wife
and kids were going to be at the
finish line. I wanted to show my
kids that if you push, you can finish
anything you start.”
Dupertuis explained it took
him three-and-a-half hours to finish
the last eight miles of the race.
However, despite his defeat, he
was determined to try again. To
date, Dupertuis has logged two ultramarathons
and many shorter
long-distance races. His longest
run so far is a 100-kilometer ultramarathon.
“I found the 100K because
I was looking for a 50-mile race,”
Dupertuis explained that
the race website advertised a medal
for everyone that finished, but
something more attractive caught
“Those who completed the
100K would get a big ole’ belt
buckle, and being me, I decided to
run 12 more miles,” he said.
Dupertuis explained that
except for a brief period of doubt
around mile 30, his 100K performance
significantly improved from
his first ultramarathon.
“I felt good the whole time; I was
just enjoying it,” Dupertuis said.
“The last 16 miles were nothing
but rain and I loved it. Running in
the dark with only a headlamp,
slopping through the mud, made
me feel like a kid again.”
Dupertuis said his accomplishments
are largely the result of
extensive conditioning, which he
said is key to completing an ultramarathon.
“During the week, I run
twice a day and cross-train with
weights,” Dupertuis said. “On the
weekends, I do a pace run on Saturday
and a long run on Sunday.
The idea is to run on tired legs so
your body is used to it during a
For new runners, the feat of
an ultramarathon may seem out of
reach, but Dupertuis encourages
others to start small by building a
strong base and gradually adding
distance as he did.
“I didn’t start running until
Master Sgt. Dupertuis introduced
me to trail running two years ago,”
said Peter Raspitzi, a friend and
neighbor. “Running up and down
the hills was difficult at first, but
now I train about once a week with
Raspitzi explained that although
he has completed a few
short-distance races, he plans to
leave ultramarathon running to his
neighbor, who he describes as exceptionally
“I think his drive and determination
are what make him so
successful,” Raspitzi said. “I told
him he was out of his mind to run
an ultramarathon, but he was determined
to prove that he could.
When he puts his mind to something,
he does it.”
6th Air Mobility Wing