WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — After facing adversities in his life, Staff Sgt. Kyle Hipol now embraces them and turns any challenges he encounters as opportunities. Running the Air Force Marathon in September is certainly a challenge that he is ready to take on.
In 2008 at 14 years old, Hipol had witnessed his younger sister faint and as she went down, she struck her head knocking her unconscious. Taking immediate action, he and his father administered CPR and were able to resuscitate her. As a result of the injury, his sister was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Around the same time of his sister’s accident, Hipol’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a hard-fought battle, she passed away in 2012.
“Having experienced the traumatic events with my sister and mother at such a young age, I started to battle with panic attacks and anxiety,” said Hipol. “The fear of trying things became a reoccurring theme throughout my life because of what I experienced and it began to affect my daily life.”
In 2015, Hipol decided that joining the Air Force was his first step in overcoming his fears.
Now at 25 years old, Hipol is currently on a special duty position as a defense occupational and environmental health readiness system support office consultant at the 711th Human Performance Wing and said after joining the Air Force, he has seen the possibilities and opportunities that he never thought he would have.
Hipol credits the Air Force for giving him a skillset and the realization of his potential.
“I never thought I could be a part of something like the Air Force,” said Hipol. “I am a part of this one big team, and even more a family.”
Hipol’s resiliency was challenged one more time when his marriage unexpectedly came to an end last year while stationed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
“Over a matter of days, out of nowhere, I was divorced,” said Hipol. “When I joined the military, being away from my family was already a big change for me and now I had to overcome this without them here to support me.”
That’s when Hipol said he had to rely on everything he had been taught on comprehensive fitness and reached out to his Air Force family for help.
“Although they were once strangers to me, I spoke with my chaplain, my supervisor and other Airmen in my flight,” said Hipol. “Everyone was amazing and extremely supportive when I told them what I was going through. Even when I just needed to get away, members in my flight would let me come over and sleep on their couch. Without them, my options would have been limited to where I could go and feel safe.”
Hipol also incorporated physical fitness as an outlet to overcome his grief and decided to take up running.
“I felt like I needed to transform the emotional pain that I was going through to the soles of my feet so I started running; and it worked,” said Hipol. “I started with running short distances and gradually built up to longer ones.”
Apparently Hipol ran distances long enough that in April he decided to register to run the full marathon (26.2 miles) at the Air Force Marathon on Sept. 21.
“The idea of running that far makes me scared but I won’t overcome my fears unless I face them,” he said.
Hipol began training mid-May using an 18-week training program created by runner and author Hal Higdon. In addition, he is vegan and will be completing this marathon on a fully plant-based diet.
As a first time marathon runner, Hipol foresees his challenges with running the marathon as the mental and physical toll he will experience as he reaches particular mile markers. Unsure how his body will react through training, he has already seen improvements and has great confidence he has what it takes.
Another challenge Hipol is concerned with is finding the time to run but says training is his number one priority. So rain or shine, he gets his miles in.
“I have endured many difficulties in my life –as we all do, and instead of seeing them as failures or disappointments, I chose to start seeing those challenges as opportunities,” said Hipol. “Even if the outcome isn’t what I expected, I know that I will come out better, stronger, and wiser as long as I try my best.”
The 2019 Air Force Marathon is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21. The Sports & Fitness expo is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, and Friday, Sept. 20. The Breakfast of Champions is scheduled for 8-10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20 and the Gourmet Pasta Dinner is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday evening. For more information about the Air Force Marathon, visit www.usafmarathon.com.