I was at my annual training in June this year and I saw a flyer to try out for the Ft. Hunter-Liggett Army 10-Miler team. I called the point-of-contact who told me to show up at 6 am in a few days. Ft. Hunter-Liggett did a rolling try-out. Over the course of two months if Ivan, the MWR guy running the show, had time you could run or submit a time. At the end of July he would pick the fastest times an notify folks.
I ran the course with LT Wade Phillips. The Ft. Hunter-Liggett time trial course had a slight uphill on the way out which made for a nice negative split on the way back. I ran a 63:07 and felt pretty good about my chances.
Army 10-Milers Past
This would not be my first trip to DC to run the Army 10-Miler. In Iraq I was fortunate to have met up with some other runners in my brigade who were in contact with the major in the division who was running the Ft. Campbell tryouts. Every Sunday they would transport runners from our brigade to the other side of Camp Victory to run around Saddam’s palaces and lakes. I made the team and shortly after we got back we all drove from Ft. Campbell to DC.
|Camp Stryker Running Crew. 2 BCT / 101st Airborne Division\|
I had a good enough time that the next year when I went to Ft. Leonard-Wood for the Engineer Captain’s Career Course I called up the MWR and get in contact with LTC Jackie Chan (yes, that was really her name) and trained with that team. We placed third in the Active Army mixed team category.
|2007 Ft. Leonard-Wood Army 10-Miler Team|
Every deployed post that I was at in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait put on some version of the race. It was free and always fun challenge over the usual 5k runs.
|2014 Army 10-Miler in Camp Arifjan Kuwait|
Transportation and Lodging
Army teams typically stay in the Crystal Gateway Marriott. It is stunningly convenient to get to the start. You could take the metro in the basement of the hotel but I got the impression that some years the Metro had not supported the race by opening early and that the years that it was open it was rather crowded. It is easier just to walk north along S Eads St. – it’s pleasant and a nice way to stretch out the legs prior to the race.
|Getting to the start of a race with 25,000 doesn't get much easier|
The other advantage of the Crystal Marriot or similarly located hotel, is that you are right next to the MountVernon Trail. This trails goes for miles and is free of road crossings. If you go north you are even blessed with nice views of the mall and its monuments.
Traveling into Reagan National Airport is the most convenient way to do the Army 10-Miler. There is an easy Metro that takes you one stop down to Crystal City (or into the city and other Metro lines). Dulles has public transit options but they involve a bus and transfers. There is enough to do in DC that there is no good reason to get a car.
|Metro with the airport, hotel and race start. Doesn't get much more convenient|
If you are active duty packet pick-up opens at 8:30. For the general public it opens at 10. While it might be tempting to sleep in, the line into the Armory explodes if you wait. At 9:30 we walked right into the building and had our packet and shirt in less than 10 minutes. When we left the line wrapped around the block and almost reached the metro stop.
|Packet pick-up line around 11 am|
The expo itself was nice enough and I found a good deal on some running shorts that I felt I was running low on (my wife throws away pairs long before my cutoff of being unable to tell which holes are for the legs).
|Ft. Hunter-Liggett team at the Expo|
We got to the race about an hour before the start. There were ample toilets (at least at more than a half-hour to the start). There was a nice section of the course that was closed to traffic but not part of the first mile that made for a good warm-up area.
I started near the middle of my wave. As with the New York City Marathon I should probably have muscled my way closer to the front. But the first split was still a little below my goal pace of six-minute miles (3:45 kilometers). I kept up a good shown until the halfway point when the rain, wind and temperatures began to get the best of me. I was somewhat relieved to learn later that it was not just me. After around 10 am the Army made the call to shorten the course andcall the event a fun run.
I waited around for LT Phillips (who I had run the time trial with many weeks ago). Our ringer, CPT Foster (who ran for a few of the All Army teams) had finished long before both of us. We found Ivan (aka coach) and my family who had come out.
CPT Foster, Wade and I did a rather nice cool-down on the Mount Vernon Trail which was easily accessible from the northeast corner of the parking lot. We crossed a bridge and found ourselves on nice secluded section of the trail - a nice chance of pace from the crowded racing and warm-up.
We were fortunate to bring home the Army Reserve Mixed Team trophy (top four times with at least one male and female time)
|Coach with our sweet trophy|
Being a Tourist
I have been grateful each time for the opportunity to stay the afternoon after the race. There is so much to see around DC within an easy metro ride. The capital tour was a little challenging with two small kids but the mall was perfect.
|Kid approved Washington DC tourism|
I was grateful to the Army Reserves for the chance to run in DC again. My only regret was not getting to see more of my friends from the Kuwait Running Mafia. I’ll pick them up next time.