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"I ran my fastest mile in Mississippi, 4:36, and I was planning to do better than that, so when I got to Stewart [Air Force Base] there was no track, so I started training for long distance races." (video interview, 00:19:57.0)

   Dennis Pennenga
Collection image
Dennis Pennenga in uniform [1962]
War: Cold War
Branch: Air Force
Unit: Air Defense Command
Service Location: Biloxi, Mississippi; Newburgh, New York; San Antonio, Texas
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Like many young men who join the military, Dennis Pennenga went through a difficult period of adjustment during boot camp. Dealing with the physical training regimen was hard enough for someone unused to it, but then he also had to learn how to live in a barracks with other men--and how to deal with a bully as well. Pennenga built himself up to the point that he was doing 25 chin-ups and 90 push-ups at a time, and soon he was running track for the Air Force, placing 2nd in the 300 meter steeple chase in 1961. As a direct consequence of his Air Force experience, Pennenga continued running after his service, switching to distance running and eventually running his best marathon time, 2 hours 52 minutes, at age 40 in the 1982 Newsday marathon.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (52 min.)
»Photo Album  (3 photos)
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»First, Serve: Athletes in Uniform
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
First days in boot camp; thinking he might not make it. (00:52) Dealing with a bully in the barracks. (01:19) Running track for the U.S. Air Force; placed 2nd in 1961 for Air Force Worldwide in the 300 meter steeple chase. (01:39)
Training for the Boston marathon backed by the Air Force; mistakes made in his training regimen. (01:40) Continuing to run marathons after his service ended; running a sub-three-hour marathon at age 40. (00:41) Workout regimen while in the Air Force, 1961. (00:43)

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  October 26, 2011
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