Putnam County FOP team to partake in Mini-Marathon
With the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon just a few days away, several of Putnam County's finest are gearing up for the big race on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Darrel Bunten, Ed Wilson and Chris Jones of the Greencastle Police Department along with Putnam County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Justin Long will be running the Mini-Marathon for the fourth consecutive year, comprising the Putnam County Fraternal Order of Police team.
Both Bunten and Jones had competed in the Mini-Marathon as individuals in 2009, but after doing some research and finding that they could compete in the race as team event, Badge Match, they quickly sought to find others to join in.
"I first got Darrel to run with me in a 5K and the Mini in 2009. Ed joined in almost at the same time because we were all working the same shift," Jones explained. "The running gave us stress relief from work and let us do something fun together. We got the FOP involved and started a GPD running team."
In order to compete, the team had to have a minimum of four members and although, several other officers, including Assistant Chief Brian Hopkins, Detective Mike Collins and Deputy Matt Huffman have all competed in the Mini, Long was the final piece in making up the long-standing team.
"We try to only get members of our department on the team," Bunten noted. "Long is the only one not officially on the department, he's a prosecutor. But, he's got arrest powers just as we do, so he's on the team."
With the team complete, the group quickly began training for the nation's largest half marathon and has not stopped since.
"We train throughout the year together as much as we can," Wilson said. "There's training regimes that we try and stick to as well as training programs each one of us individually adhere to."
Not only do they run the streets of Greencastle, running 15 or more miles a week to make sure to build up to a 90-minute continuous run before the race along with a strength program, but they also compete in several events throughout the year leading up to the Mini and eventually the Monumental Marathon in November.
"It's just a team effort. We do several races throughout the year, including the Warrior Dash, the Fourth of July 5K and the Fun Run," Bunten explained. "That way we're doing something throughout the year to keep the camaraderie. We meet and we train together and we get to see how everybody's improved. We try to beat our own personal time each time we race. We don't try to beat each other we just try to beat our time, that's one of the goals we work toward."
Running 13.1 miles is no easy feat for anyone, especially when you're competing as a group against other teams of all sizes throughout the nation.
"We try and run it a little harder because we're competing as a team against other teams throughout the state and other states," Wilson explained. "They take the top four times of your finishers and they average those together and that's how they figure out your place."
The size of other teams may be daunting to some, especially competing with just a team of four, but competing with friends and coworkers has its benefits.
"Running as a team just makes it more fun and kind of gives each person some accountability to each other," Jones said. "We don't want to let each other down. We rely on each other in dangerous situations at work all the time and this just helps us to build that confidence in each other. During the race it's truly an individual thing, but in the back of our minds we are running not to let each other down.
This will be our fourth year running the Mini and have done really well against the other agencies. We have finished in the top half of teams every year and we are by far the smallest department competing."
With just three days to go until the big day, the team is taking it easy, running shorter distances and carb loading to fuel up for the race.
"For the last three to four weeks before the race we're running long distances and as it gets closer we run shorter distances," Wilson explained. "We still try to keep mobile to keep trained, but we don't have to run such far distances leading up to the race.
"Every year that we've run this we've bettered our time, even if it's just by a little bit. Exercising keeps us in shape and healthy. It keeps us mobile and it's fun."
So, as the days dwindle down, the team is looking forward to hopefully again beating its own personal records.
"Heart attacks kill dozens of police officers each year while on duty and this is one of the reasons why I started running and promoted it at the department," Jones said. "Running the stress off from work and getting everyone together outside of work has been great."