Pa. ANG wire technician, single mom relies on warrior ethos in life, Spartan competition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Timi Jones
  • 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs

“Warrior ethos is the embodiment of the warrior spirit: tough mindedness, tireless motivation, an unceasing vigilance, a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the country, if necessary…,” according to Air Force Instruction 36-2014, Commissioning Education Program (2012), Attachment 1 Glossary.

While the aforementioned attributes describe many Air National Guardsmen; the 111th Attack Wing boasts an Airman harnessing warrior ethos in both the routine and most extraordinary fashion.

As a provider for her two daughters, Tech. Sgt. Tania Kennedy normally spends her days here ensuring the training and readiness of 30 Guardsmen. But last year, the 270th Engineering and Installation Squadron (EIS) wire technician conquered Iceland’s Spartan Ultra World Championship — a 24-hour, obstacle-thick race held Dec. 17.

Upon submitting her biography to enter the competition, Kennedy never assumed that she’s be selected. After all, she’d never ran more than a 4-mile race before, her activity based mostly weight lifting.  But, Kennedy said, in October she received the surprising news, and the realization she had a mere nine weeks to train for the most demanding physical test of her life.

While she faced many naysayers, her Air Guard family supported her aspiration.

 “The unit here was super supportive. They all dropped their knowledge and gear on me so I could prepare.”

Her supervisor, Senior Master Sgt. Frank McHenry, 270th EIS, was very impressed with her will and determination to succeed.

“She only found out a couple months prior,” he said, “but as soon as she did, she started eating better, working out and took this very seriously. We are very proud of her for going through that.”

Kennedy was not only motivated by the support of her unit, but also by her two daughters. The 7- and 10-year old girls served to inspire and help apply her parenting style, which is leading by example.

“I think it’s really important for [children] to see their parents challenge themselves like that,” Kennedy said. “For them to realize like, ‘Hey it doesn’t matter what it is, go with it and work hard. Do your best.’”

She found a similarity in the hardiness of spirit of being a single mother and the personal grit it takes to be part of the Spartan Ultra World Championship.

“It’s just like being a mom – you have to figure out a way to get things done. No matter how exhausted you are, you push through and continue to do your best.”

Kennedy re-configured her full-time career and parenting to train, relying on resilience and courage. She began working out twice a day. Some nights, after a nine-hour workday, she pushed her body to aching limits while trudging with a weighted vests on long runs amid bitter temperatures.

The hard work and sacrifice of the 13-year Airman paid off in 24 hours and 37.8 miles last month - she earned her finisher’s metal.

She signed up for six more races this year.

“I think I found a new passion,” she said of ultra competitions.

As with her daughters, Kennedy is looking to lead by example when it comes to her fellow Air Guardsmen. Her efforts for the future include inspiring her Air Guardsmen to get involved and motivated in physical fitness and consider ultra-endurance racing. 

“Whatever struggles they’re going through, [I want] to give them something positive to focus on,” Kennedy said. “Like, ‘Now you have something to train for. This is going to take you to the next level mentally.'"

Motivated by a strong warrior ethos, Kennedy conquered doubts and pushed past her limits; finding the courage necessary to endure one of the greatest challenges of her life.

“I definitely feel better about who I am and what I can do,” Kennedy said. “I feel like I will look at challenges in life a lot differently, like ‘Man, what is that compared to a 24-hour race. That’s minute.’”

**Editor’s Note: Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond, 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs Office, contributed to this story**