84-year-old veteran training for Air Force Marathon series

Local News

BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) – Just two months shy of his 85th birthday, Ovidio Pugnale is going the extra mile.

Tuesday, the retired Air Force colonel ran more than three miles near his Beavercreek home, training to run both the 5K and 10K races in the Air Force Marathon series during the upcoming weekend.

Running wasn’t a hobby he expected to pick up later in life.

“I don’t know what possessed me to run,” Pugnale said. “I always thought, ‘Why would I want to do that?'”

He likes to joke he started jogging in his late 70s as a way to avoid household chores.

“I can’t hang around the house too much because (my wife) will always find something for me to do,” he laughed. “This gives me some place to go, something to do.”

His first race, a 10 K in the Air Force Marathon series, convinced him to continue the pastime.

“It first sunk in when a B2 bomber flew over just as they kick off the race and I got such a rush,” Pugnale said. “I thought, gee, this is really great.”

His family immigrated to northeastern Ohio from Italy when he was 2-years-old.

The son of an Italian WWI soldier, Pugnale would eventually be accepted to pilot school and join the emerging U.S. Air Force branch, get drafted as a B 52 pilot during the Vietnam War and climb the ranks to colonel, before retiring 26 years later.

He was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base three separate times during his career and decided to stay in the area for retirement.

Pugnale said his military service and connection to the base makes the Air Force Marathon series a special event for him.

“I’m proud of my 26 years in the service and what the military means to the country,” he said.

Pugnale joked about retiring his running shoes after the weekend’s races, but said he plans to continue his active lifestyle as long as he’s able.

Air Force Marathon events kick off Thursday, September 13. The full marathon race is on Saturday morning.

You can find the full list of events and more information about race weekend here.

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