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Yuma runner represents Corps in cross-country championship

By Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison | | February 11, 2010

A Yuma Marine is slated to compete in the Armed Forces Cross-Country Championship at the Plantes Ferry Recreation Park in Spokane, Wash., on Feb. 13, 2010.

1st Lt. Erin Demchko's time of 34:15 for the 8-kilometer All-Marine Cross-Country Championship in January earned her a spot on the team, comprised of 10 Marines and split evenly between genders.

The other contenders are stationed throughout the Marine Corps. They train via online running programs created by their coach, Joe Puleo, head of the cross-country and track-and-field programs at Rutgers-Camden University in New Jersey.

“When she got to the Marine Corps, the shortest race she ran was the 8K,” said Puleo, who also heads the Marine Corps Regional Running Program. “Her enthusiasm is really big. From a team building standpoint, she’s a huge component.”

Members are chosen first based on their running abilities, and then if they can and want to train, said Demchko, a Pearl River, N.Y., native.

Demchko, the assistant logistics officer for the Yuma-based Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, started training for the competition in October 2009.

“Training is pretty much on your own,” said Demchko, who has been running since 7th grade and competitively for the last 12 years. “What I’ll have are mileage days, maybe 50 minutes to an hour per run.”

Demchko also said she works out with interval runs and tempo courses, in which she runs at a set pace for a set amount of time. The exercises improve both stamina and speed.

“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to last year,” said Demchko, referring to 2009’s course in Derwood, Md. “It was a pretty hilly course, though,” said Demchko.

This year’s 8-kilometer course for the females, is nearly completely flat, complementing a Yuma runner’s environment, though the temperarture is estimated to be around 42 degrees.

The Armed Forces championship is hosted by the United States of America Track and Field Association. There are 200-300 runners in each race for males and females, 40 of which represent the four services.

“It’s the physical mission,” said Demchko. “It’s not just a military race. In essence, we go out, and we’re the face of the Marine Corps.”

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