By Walt Johnson | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Soldiers answered an early 6 a.m. call June 5, 2021, to participate in the first of the Fort Carson Army Ten-Miler running team qualifying trials at Iron Horse Park.
The Army’s annual Army Ten-Miler Race and Expo is scheduled to be held either virtually again this year or in person in October in Washington, D.C. Fort Carson’s athletes have a rich history of placing extremely well during the event prior to COVID-19, making last year’s run a virtual event. According to Rebecca Baden, run coordinator, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, while it’s unclear what the event will look like this year, runners are preparing for either event, but looking to keep the post tradition of fielding a competitive team alive.
“Today’s qualifying run is strictly for active-duty people to qualify for the annual Army Ten-Miler,” Baden said. “We also have a heat for people that may not want to qualify for the (Army) Ten-Miler but also want to run a 5K race today. The race is starting at six this morning because we felt it would be the ideal temperature for the runners. We didn’t want the runners to have to deal with that kind of heat, so we started the event this early in the morning.”
It may not have made a difference to the runners when the trials were held or what the temperature was, as one enthusiastic runner after another arrived at the park to qualify. One Soldier, Anna Walker, was excited to be at the qualifier for more than one reason, as she wanted to see where she stood physically after a tough year.
“Last year I broke my leg, and my body was injured, so this is my first time being able to test my leg after a year and a half of inactivity,” Walker said. “I love running and I missed it so much. I hope this race today will help see how much I have progressed, and I will feel so proud of myself after I finish. This will help me feel like I’m getting back to my normal self.”
Walker said she would be “super happy” with and feel accomplished if she was able to qualify for the Fort Carson team.
The race also took on an international flair as two Soldiers from the Australian Army, here for a training exercise, Eliza Brewer and Timothy Douglas, came out to participate in the fun run part of the event. Both Soldiers said it was a chance to get out and participate in a run that brought them to the park.
“We wanted to come out today because we wanted to be out with members of this community, and be part of the total American experience,” Douglas said. “It’s a bit different running here than at sea level (in Australia) and running here especially has been really hard. We do runs like this in the Australian community, but not as many military organized runs like this and the color run, we did a few weeks ago.”
Brewer fashions herself as a long-distance runner. She said she tries to run a kilometer for every year she has lived, and Saturday was her 32nd birthday. She decided to do the run because she wanted to get in a good long-distance run for her birthday and enjoy the company of the post community while doing it.
The first runner to cross the finish line was Kyle Smith, who has run in Army Ten-Milers in the past. Most recently he finished in 10th place while running for Fort Lee, and he is hoping to be a part of the Fort Carson team this year.
“This course was a good test today. The biggest thing I get from running in the (Army) Ten-Miler is the ability to push myself to do better than I did the previous time,” Smith said. “This is one of the few events where not only do you get to race against other people, but you also get to test yourself in terms of doing better than your previous personal best time. I like it because it gives me the opportunity to really push myself and get the most out of my abilities all at the same time.”
There will be a second qualifying event in July, and a third chance later this year before the Fort Carson team is chosen.