By Bryan Gatchell, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, Va. (Oct. 26, 2017) – Twelve Soldiers from Fort Benning, Georgia traveled to the Pentagon here to take part in the Army Ten-Miler Oct. 8.
The Army Ten-Miler, an annual race now in its 33rd year, takes place in Arlington and Washington.
The Benning Soldiers represented several different units across post and comprised two teams: an active-duty mixed team and an active-duty men’s team. The mixed team earned fourth place of 56 in its category and 20th place overall, and the men’s team earned ninth place of 33 in its category and 28th place overall.
Capt. David McCarthy, who ran on the Fort Benning mixed team and is a student at the U.S. Army Armor School, said the higher-than-average temperature and humidity affected his run.
“The combination of the extreme humidity and the higher temperatures, which is kind of abnormal for this time of year, had an impact – at least on my race,” said McCarthy.
“I did pretty bad,” said Spc. Calvin Powell, 75th Ranger Regiment and runner on the men’s team. “In comparison to last year, I ran a 60:30, this year I ran a 62:50. It was a little bit more humid. It was better than I could do about five years ago, so I can’t complain. It definitely wasn’t the sub-sixty I was looking for. So I’ll try again next year, and hopefully we’ll have a little bit better weather.”
“It is my slowest time running the Army Ten-Miler,” said 1st Sgt. Blake Simms, first sergeant and runner on the mixed team. “Across the board, I think a lot of people had really slow times this year.”
Nathan Thomas, a Soldier in the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course and runner on the men’s team, though he did not achieve what he hoped for was nevertheless happy with his performance during the race as it was a personal record.
“That isn’t saying too much because I don’t usually run 10 miles,” said Thomas. “I was hoping to break 60 minutes, and I was at 62 minutes. Not quite where I was hoping. On the other hand, it was my best time.”
The course begins at the Pentagon in Arlington, runs by the Arlington National Cemetery, crosses the Potomac River to the National Mall, loops back over the Potomac, and concludes at the Pentagon. Along the way, runners pass by scenic sites and monuments including the Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. The 35,000 race participants included service members on active duty, in the Reserve, and in the National Guard, included wounded warriors, included veterans, included civilians, and included family members. The participants started running in eight waves timed throughout the 8 a.m. hour to spread the finish line density out.
“It’s absolutely one of the races that ought to be on every American’s bucket list,” said 1st Lt. Julia Pleasants, Army National Guard Warrior Training Center and runner on the mixed team. “Just being in D.C. and running past Arlington Cemetery is just defining what we do as Soldiers.”
“Being amongst 35,000 people, I definitely feel bigger,” said Spc. Claud Bugheni, a health care specialist with Martin Army Community Hospital and runner on the men’s team. “It’s the first time I’ve been around this many people. It makes you have this bigger sense of belonging.”
Bugheni was spurred to run when a sergeant told Bugheni he ran fast. Pleasants and Erich Friedlein, another Soldier at the ARNG WTC, saw flyers for the qualifier at one of the on-post fitness centers.
“We were fortunate enough to run fast enough to make the team, so this is the first time out here,” said Friedlein, who ran on the men’s team.
Fort Benning held two qualifying races in July and August from which 12 Soldiers were chosen to participate.
Second Lt. Matthew Bearden, who came in 34th overall and previously ran on the cross-country team at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at West Point, New York, said he joined Fort Benning’s Army Ten-Miler team partly for the networking opportunity.
“I was always told the Army Ten-Miler’s where you see your old teammates and past cross-country guys,” said Bearden, who ran on the mixed team.
The different runners have different reasons for running, and different reasons they would encourage others to run.
“I run because it helps me de-stress, and it helps keep me balanced,” said 1st Lt. Jodie S. Villegas, a Soldier with 316th Cavalry Brigade and runner on the mixed team. “If you’re in a group – running with others – it’s always fun too. Especially with a good group of people, it encourages you to go faster.”
“It’s just healthy, good for your physical fitness,” said 2nd Lt. Jake Schmitz, a student in the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course and runner of the mixed team. “I liked the immediate benefits you got. You work hard for a couple of months, and you saw improvements.”
Friedlein expounded on the benefits running holds for Soldiers.
“Just having the endurance base will make all your Soldier tasks that much easier to do,” said Friedlein. “Plus the endorphin release feels good.”
“We do PT every day in the Army,” said McCarthy. “For those who are interested in trying something different, there are so many various, different cardio workouts to be done – some more difficult, some more advanced – at all levels. Anybody can do it. There’s no shame if you’re running a 14-minute mile. It’s all about improvement, constant improvement. As long as you can maintain or improve, that’s a success, that’s a victory for you.”
Thomas sees running as an opportunity to enjoy the local community.
“Columbus, Georgia has a wonderful Riverwalk along the Chattahoochee,” he said. “It gives you a chance to get out to see the community and see the area. It’s a good social thing too.”
At the end of the race, several military, federal, and other organizations had tents set up, including the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning. MCoE’s tent had displays up on the center’s lines of effort (Future Maneuver, Leader Development, Readiness, and Community), on Fort Benning’s 100-year history as part of the upcoming yearlong centennial celebration, and videos on Cross-Domain Maneuver and Fort Benning’s history. There were also informational handouts on these subjects. The large draw for MCoE and Fort Benning, however, was the pull-up bar, on which runners, supporters and spectators tried their strength as drill sergeants encouraged them.
For more information on the Army Ten-Miler, visit www.armytenmiler.com.
For more information on the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, visit www.benning.army.mil.