Author: Claudia Sanchez-Bustamante, MHS Communications
For some, sports are simply a way to stay fit, for others a way to de-stress. But for endurance athletes - who push themselves to go faster and longer for events such as marathons, cycling races, cross-country skiing, triathlons, and long-course swimming - it's a mental and physical challenge with themselves.
Such is the case of Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Duane Zitta, intelligence chief for Sector Anchorage, on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. Zitta has embarked on the world's most extreme endurance events ever since he ran his first marathon at age 23 just “to see" if he could run that far. (He completed it in just over three hours - 3:09 to be exact - which is a far better time than the average marathoner, who takes about 4.5 hours).
For Zitta, endurance sports began as a way to let his energy out.
“When I was young, running was always something that I enjoyed," he said. “It was an outlet for me, I was a super hyperactive kid with a lot of energy. And running was a way to get that energy out."
Later in life, it became a way to give back to the Coast Guard community. After losing a fellow Coastguardsman during a helicopter search-and-rescue operation, these ultra-endurance events became a way to raise funds for his colleague's children.
Since then, he's competed in high-profile events to raise funds for the non-profit Coast Guard Foundation, which provides college scholarships for the children of fallen “Coasties."
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