Zuniga runs on track
Spc. Alejandro Zuniga, of the 1021st Engineer Company, 205th Engineer Battalion, runs four miles a day, six days a week. However, just 18 months ago he weighed 100 pounds more. Now his workout routine allowed him to beat the perfect score on the Army Physical Fitness Test run by more than three minutes.

PINEVILLE, La. (Army News Service, Jan. 21, 2011) -- Louisiana National Guardsman Spc. Alejandro Zuniga scored an incredible 401 points on his most recent Army Physical Fitness Test -- something even he found hard to believe considering the state he was in less than two years ago.

Zuniga, a member of the 1021st Engineering Company, 205th Engineer Battalion, overcame tremendous odds recently when he racked up well over the max number of points needed to score an excellent rating on the APFT.

Just 18 months ago, and 100 pounds heavier, Zuniga was battling despair and depression.

One day, he had enough.

"When I was bigger, I was on the edge of depression. I felt helpless," Zuniga said. "Just one day something someone said struck me. I am so much more confident now."

Too large to run, Zuniga started by walking. Within a couple of months, he was able to run three miles without walking.

Today, he runs four miles a day, six-days a week, then boosts his workout with 100 push-ups a day and lifts weights for at least an hour. This strict program allowed Zuniga to achieve the remarkable feat few Guardsmen have ever heard of.

"I almost passed out when I heard," said Zuniga. His first sergeant had a similar reaction.

"I said, 'Are you serious''" said 1st Sgt. Jack Toney when he heard Zuniga's score. "A perfect score is 100 points in each of three categories on the test, for a total combined score of 300. I have never seen a score like this one in 24 years of service."

Zuniga completed 112 push-ups, 117 sit-ups and ran the two-mile run in 10:07. An unofficial extended scale is used once a Soldier passes the total event requirement for a perfect score. He was awarded one additional point for each push-up, sit-up and six seconds off his time for the run.

Toney saw first-hand Zuniga's work ethic when they served together on Task Force Kout Men in Haiti last summer. Even after an exhausting day of construction work, the devoted Soldier still made time for a work out.

"Zuniga would work, and I mean work, all day on his project site and come back to the base camp and run and do PT on his own," explained Toney.

"It was incredible. I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it myself," said Sgt. Patrick Mahoney who graded Zuniga's PT test. Mahoney said his main concern was being able to count fast enough.

Not content with just his own success, Zuniga has started helping others achieve their goals as well.

"I want to be a trainer for the National Guard," he said. "I want to be that person to go to get help. If I was 265 pounds and lost 100 pounds, I know everyone else can too."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16