Soldiers sweep Army Ten-Miler
A total of 35,000 runners took part in the race, which begins at the Pentagon, then winds over the Potomac and past the National Mall, before returning to the Defense Department headquarters
Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir (3) leads the pack of front runners during the first mile of the Army Ten-Miler Oct. 8, 2017 with Spc. Haron Lagat (2) and Spc. Leonard Korir (5) close behind. Photo: U.S. Army/Gary Sheftick
The Army Ten-Miler, produced by the Military District of Washington, is a world-class special event held each October in Washington, D.C.
By JOSEPH LACDAN, Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON — Spc. Haron Lagat raised his fist in triumph as he entered the final stretch of the 33rd Army Ten-Miler Oct. 8, finishing with a winning time of 49:23.
A light rain had begun to fall on the unseasonably warm fall day, creating potentially dangerous conditions for runners, but it didn’t deter the team from the Army World Class Athlete Program. It was the second consecutive year that five Soldiers from WCAP finished in the top five places, and this year the top woman runner was also from WCAP.
Sgt. Samuel Kosgei crossed the line second, followed by WCAP teammates Capt. Robert Cheseret (third), Spc. Leonard Korir and Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir.
“After five miles I took off,” said Lagat, a native of Kenya, who enlisted in the U.S. Army two years ago as a 12R electrician.
Perhaps the victory was sweet redemption for Lagat, who narrowly missed earning a place on the U.S. track team at the Olympic trials in 2016.
Along with a heavy training regimen, each member of the WCAP program runs up to 100 miles per week. The runners have the advantage of training at Fort Carson’s high altitude and they prepare themselves for different types of terrain including an uphill run each week.
The high-altitude training also helped prepare Carson’s other soldiers who placed first in the active-duty men’s category. The Carson team placed first for the sixth time in seven years.
“We come to win,” said Fort Carson coach Ali Asgary. “We don’t have a plan B.”
A total of 35,000 runners took part in the race, which begins at the Pentagon, then winds over the Potomac and past the National Mall, before returning to the Defense Department headquarters. Due to the weather conditions this year, race organizers with the Military District of Washington downgraded the event to a recreational run for those who finished after 9 a.m. But WCAP and other runners overcame the elements.
“I think we all did great,” said Cheseret, who finished third. “Before the race we talked about running as a team, and I think we accomplished that. We all finished one through five as a team. … Everybody did what we wanted to do. So that’s why I’m proud of everyone.”
In the 2016 Ten-Miler, Fort Carson had its bid for a sixth straight first-place team finish snapped by Fort Bragg despite several Carson members setting personal records.
“When you start winning and then you win five times in a row you set the bar so high,” Asgary said.
The top female finisher was also from Fort Carson as a member of the WCAP team. Spc. Susan Tanui clocked a time of 56:53. Despite the heat and rainy conditions, Tanui still managed to eclipse her time of 58:27 in the 2014 Ten-Miler and over 59 minutes in 2016.
Tanui, also a native of Kenya and former All-American runner at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, credits the WCAP program and coaches with helping her train.
“It’s a great feeling,” Tanui said. “I did what I was hoping for, so it’s great that I maintained (her pace) all the way to the end.”
Kosgei finished second after placing 12th in 2016. A week earlier at the USA Track and Field championship 10-mile run, Kosgei said he succumbed to fatigue and finished 18th. For Kosgei and Cheseret, their top finishes are a stepping stone to another challenge: the U.S. Marathon Championships in December.
“I feel good. We won as a team,” said Kosgei, who finished first at the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon. “The goal was to win as a team; push together and that’s what we did.”
Rachel Booth, wife of Marine Corps Maj. Jonathan Booth, was the third female runner to cross the finish line. She decided to compete after joining a women’s running group from Charlottesville, Va.
“I’m excited with it. I didn’t have a lot of training buildup, mileage wise,” Booth said. “But I’m happy.”
Before the event, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley shared words of encouragement with the competitors, and Black Hawk helicopters provided a flyover. About 57 percent of the competitors were active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members or retired military, veterans, DOD civilians or military dependents.
U.S. Department of Defense/U.S. Army
African-Americans have fought and died in every American military campaign since the American Revolutionary War from 1775-1783, yet many Americans have no idea of Black American military service prior to World War I.
More than 9,000 Black soldiers — most of whom still were slaves — fought in the American Revolutionary War against the British, most famous among them, the iconic martyr Crispus Attucks, who five years before the outbreak of the war was shot dead by British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre in 1770.
Other wars bearing the imprint and shed blood of African-Americans include the War of 1812, Mexican-American War, American Civil War, the Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Bars & Stripes shares the ongoing commitment of African-American men and women to the American principle of freedom through their voluntary service and sacrifice in the modern armed forces in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard — Jarrette Fellows, Jr., editor