78th Army Band commander finds his time and pace

By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Endlein
78th Army Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Sgt. Casey Burnett
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Luis Santiago, Commander 78th Army Band
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Luis Santiago, Commander of the 78th Army Band, has been hard at work training for his first ever marathon in Boston. A native of Yauco, Puerto Rico, Chief Santiago joined the Army in 1995 as a Pfc. with the 248th Army Band. After graduating from college in 2003, he was approached about becoming a bandmaster and completed his warrant officer training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama in 2006. In late 2012, he moved to Boston and took a job with the Berklee College of Music where he still works today as the Assistant Director of Global Initiatives in charge of the Berklee Latin programs. These programs are conducted in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile and provide underserved students a musical education similar to what they would receive at Berklee.

The Boston Marathon marks Chief Santiago’s first full-marathon he will attempt to complete. In the past he has completed a half-marathon, 2 sprint triathlons, and various 10k and 5k runs. He sees the Boston Marathon as an opportunity to run for a unique cause with a city fully-engaged in such an inspirational endeavor. His main inspiration however, comes from his wife of 18 years, and high-school sweetheart, Nadine Martinez. She is currently the Director of Visual and Performing Arts at the West End House Boys and Girls Club*, the club that Chief Santiago is actually running on behalf of.

“My wife and I have been working the arts and education most of our lives,” said Santiago. “They do an incredible job of helping the underserved youth of Boston to succeed in life by providing experiences through the Arts that help them prepare for college, just like I do for Berklee.” Chief Santiago sees this as his opportunity to give back to his local community, even if he is a bit nervous. “To be honest, it is a little scary,” Chief Santiago confided in an interview. “Can I do this?” and “Do I have what it takes?” are at the forefront of his mind, but then he thinks back to all he has learned in the Army from Basic Training to Warrant Officer Candidate School and finds the mental strength and discipline to push forward.

Admittedly, Chief Santiago will tell you that he enjoys running so while he has been focusing on marathon-specific training since December, his preparation is really year round. His current regimen of marathon training includes running four days a week with his longest run on Sundays. He alternates intervals, fast runs, and strength training and attends physical therapy once a week to work on staying healthy and preventing injuries. “As I have been training, I have noticed members of the Band following my progress,” said Chief Santiago. “I hope this serves as an example and use it to motivate their own training for things like the Army Physical Fitness Test.” This isn’t to say that his training hasn’t met with it’s fair share of challenges. “I travel a lot for my job, so I have to have the discipline to keep training wherever I go,” remarked Chief Santiago. Some of this travel has brought him to Bogota, Colombia where the altitude has caused his training to be very unforgiving.

Despite the difficult nature of running due to altitude, Chief Santiago maintains that training in Bogota in February has been one of his fondest memories so far. Chief remarked, “I’m from Boston so running in February is the worst part of winter, but in Bogota it feels just like spring time!” He went on to describe the beautiful nature of his runs in the morning to be surrounded by gorgeous mountain-filled landscapes.

When asked if he had any advice for potential future marathon runners, Chief brought it all back to the Army Values. “The Army trains us to live by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity and personal courage. I feel all of these apply as training is a commitment; a commitment I’ve made to the Army, the Boys and Girls club, and myself,” he said. “There are no short cuts”.

*For more info about the work being done at the West End House, please visit www.westendhouse.org

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