Missing Parts in Action Team inspires elite runners in Army Ten-Miler
February 19, 2009
By Tim Hipps
Brazilian Army Pvt. Reginaldo Campos Jr. won the men's division and Veena Reddy of Centreville, Va., led the women in the 24th running of the Army Ten-Miler, which started and ended at the Pentagon on Oct. 5.
Campos, 21, of Rio de Janeiro, improved upon his second-place finish in 2007 to win the race with a time of 48 minutes, 59 seconds.
Steve Hallinan, 22, of Arlington, Va., was second in 49:12, and was followed by Joseueldo Nascimento, 27, of Rio de Janeiro, in 49:12; All-Army team member 1st Lt. Philip Sakala, 25, of Fort Carson, Colo., in 49:45; and 2007 Army Ten-Miler champion Jose Ferreira, 32, of Rio de Janeiro, in 50:03.
Reddy, 29, won the women's race with a time of 58:08, and was followed by Mesert Kotu, 26, of Ethiopia, in 58:45; Gabriela Trana, 28, of Costa Rica, in 59:08; All-Army Capt. Mickey Kelly, 30, of Fort Carson, in 59:29; and Capt. Emily Potter, 29, of Alexandria, Va., in 59:40.
Jason Clark of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., won the wheelchair division with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute, 26 seconds. Hope Galley of Falls Church, Va., led the women's wheelchairs in 1:03:31.
The true "rabbits" on this picture-perfect day for road racing, however, were the Missing Parts in Action competitors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas-physically challenged Soldiers who got a 10-minute head start and motivated the elite runners to work harder.
Several of the front-runners in America's largest 10-mile road race shared encouraging words and gestures as they passed the wounded warriors and wheelchair competitors, many of whom sacrificed at war to help protect their freedom.
"Something like this really puts in context what we're doing in the States and overseas with all of our Soldiers, just seeing all of the wounded warriors out there," Sakala said. "I've had two really good buddies pass away - one in Iraqi Freedom and one in Afghanistan. When I'm feeling bad (on the run) and I look over and see these guys doing this-some running on one leg and even some double-amputees-that makes me want to go harder and makes me want to do well.
"I've got Army on my chest and those guys show what we're doing. It takes you back a little bit. I was going back-and-forth and back-and-forth with a guy in a chair. It just makes me really proud to be an American Soldier and very proud of what I'm doing right now.
"It really put into context how awesome this event is."
Sakala unsuccessfully competed for a berth on Team USA for the 2008 Olympics as a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program. He recently was released from the program and reported to Fort Bragg, N.C. After completing Army Airborne Jump School at Fort Benning, Ga., he likely will deploy to help fight the war on terror.
On this day, Sakala, a 2006 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., set the pace for the lead pack through five miles before relinquishing the lead to members of the Brazilian Army Team during the sixth mile.
"When the first Brazilian came, my legs were shot," admitted Sakala, a 1,500-meter specialist who regrouped and battled gamely to finish fourth. "I was just hanging on after that, but that was my personal record for 10 miles. I thought three miles was long, but all things considered, I was really happy going under 50 minutes."
Campos, who ran on Sakala's shoulder for the first five miles, made a strong surge during the sixth mile and quickly opened a 25-meter lead.
Brazilian Army Maj. Gen. Cesar Zambao said his team was invited to compete in the Army Ten-Miler for the first time last year. After his runners finished 1-2-3-4-6 in 2007 and claimed four of the top nine spots in the 2008 event, he said they plan to make the trip an annual tradition.
Second-place finisher Hallinan, a 2008 graduate of American University who works at the Gotta Run Running Shop at Pentagon Row, passed four runners in the final four miles, including two in the last two.
Reddy made her winning move during the eighth mile and Kelly, a former modern pentathlete in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, reported to Fort Riley, Kan., in December and is training for a deployment to Iraq.
"I'm ready for something different," Kelly said. "I'm ready for a change of pace."
Kelly, who improved her personal-best 10-mile time by 40 seconds, hopes to eventually return to WCAP to train for the 10,000 meters or marathon. She also hopes to run the 2009 Armed Forces Cross Country Championships before deploying.
As excited as she was about running her personal-best time, Kelly was equally eager to salute the Missing Parts in Action Team.
"You know what was awesome' The wounded warriors," she said. "I love them. I was just cheering them the whole way.
"I gain strength from watching their strength. I was yelling for every one of them that I could see because they were running right next to us. And to be running around the monuments with everyone yelling 'Go, Army!' is very special."
Tim Hipps works for FMWRC Public Affairs