25th Army Ten-Miler sets event records
October 5, 2009
By Tim Hipps
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Oct. 5, 2009) -- The silver anniversary running of the Army Ten-Miler produced event record times in the men's and women's divisions and the largest field of registered runners in the history of America's largest 10-mile race.
Ethiopian Alene Reta, 27, won the race around Washington's monuments in 46 minutes, 59 seconds - 33 seconds faster than the record established in 2004 by three-time race champion Maj. Dan Browne, who finished third Sunday with a time of 47:49 while representing the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
"My plan was to break the course record, and I did," said Reta, a 27-year-old who lives in Manhattan, N.Y. "After three miles, nobody was coming, and I went to my pace and kept it."
Samia Akbar, 27, a 2003 graduate of American University who lives in Herndon, Va., won the women's race with a time of 55:25 - 55 seconds quicker than the mark set in 1995 by Susan Molloy of Charlottesville, Va.
"It means a lot because I went after it the last time I ran this race and now it really feels good to have it," Akbar said of setting the event record this year after runners' times from the 2007 event were disqualified because of a suspicious package that shortened the course.
"I'm an elite runner. I run races all the time against some of the best women in the world and in the country," Akbar said. "It's not often that you can get a win and break a course record, so this does a lot for my confidence and my own well-being as a person.
"This is a really special race because Army and military people come from all over the world to participate in this, so it means the world. The last time I ran this race they had a bomb scare and nobody's time counted. I remember talking to Soldiers that had come from Afghanistan for only a few days and their times didn't count and my heart really went out to them, so I feel like today that win was not only just for my own personal satisfaction, but also big cheers for things not working out before and things going so well today."
An event record of 30,000 people registered for the race in a span of six days, and 21,256 runners and wheelchair athletes completed the 10-mile course that started and ended at the Pentagon.
"The night before, (race director) Jim (Vandak) told me that some Ethiopians were coming, so I knew we were going to have an honest pace," said Browne, 35, who finished 12th in the 10,000 meters and 65th in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. "It was fast, but I was confident in my fitness. It definitely pushed me. It was one of those races where I knew I was in for a hard effort the whole way."
"From miles three to four, I pushed for a mile," Reta said. "And from five to six, I pushed again, and nobody was there. I kept thinking somebody would come, but after three miles, nobody came."
"He just never let up," Browne said. "He was pushing and pushing. I raced him at the Monument Avenue 10K in March and I think he came in one or two places ahead of me there, so I knew he was a tough runner.
"At the same time, I knew he was going at such a pace that if he faltered at all, I was going to be right on him. But he never really even faltered until maybe like the eight or nine-mile mark. Maybe he slowed down just a little bit."
Reta said he slowed down a tad during the eighth mile, but that's also where Browne slowed and dropped from 25 to 70 meters behind the leader while running along Constitution Avenue.
"Exactly," Browne said. "That's when I slowed down, too, so it's just one of those things. It's not like in a marathon where you settle into a pace. These guys were on edge the whole way. It probably was over my edge a little bit trying to stay with him.
"There were times when I sped up to like a 4:35 mile and maybe caught up a little bit of ground, but you almost can't go faster than that. I never gave up the chase, but ultimately I succumbed to the pace a little bit. ... Especially through the 5-mile mark, I was thinking that I was going to slowly reel him in - but he never came back. He just kept pressing."
Second-place finisher Tesfaye Girma (47:20), another Ethiopian living in New York City, passed Browne during the final two miles as they crossed the 14th Street Bridge.
"Around three or four miles, my hip started to hurt," Girma said. "I felt better toward the end and was able to get second place. If the race was longer, I might have been able to finish first."
"I wonder what motivated those guys to come in this year," Browne said. "I've never seen the Ethiopians here before."
The Ethiopian elite runners were sponsored for the race by ICX Technologies, based in Crystal City, Va. The Brazilian Army defeated the U.S. Army for the elite team title.
"You've got to compete nowadays because people just run their guts out," Browne said. "There are not many races that I ever run anymore where people just kind of deke around for a while. Most of the U.S. championships and everything I run, it's just like 'boom' right from the gun. It's more competitive now than when I was in my early 20s. But luckily, I'm still running strong."
Katie Read of Arlington finished second in the women's race with a time of 56:39, and was followed by Muluye Gurma (57:20), an Ethiopian living in Silver Spring, Md.; Costa Rican Gabriela Trana (58:56) and former WCAP marathoner Capt. Emily Potter (59:47) of the U.S. Army Team.
"I didn't know what to expect because I just got back from a year in Kuwait in July," said Potter, a United States Military Academy graduate who has applied to re-enter WCAP. "I've been working to get back into race shape. ... I'm doing the Marine Corps Marathon in three weeks, so this was a great tune-up for that. I'm naturally better suited for the marathon."
Browne, whose goal is to make the 2010 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team, plans to make his next strong, competitive run Nov. 1 at the New York City Marathon.
"Sometimes it's good to have a race that keeps you fired up before your big competition," he said. "Runners don't run their best by resting on their laurels. They run their best when they're fired up and hungry and motivated, so maybe this will be a good thing for New York. This race showed me that I still have speed in my legs and doing the right training."
Browne, a 14-time U.S. national road-racing champion at various distances, re-entered WCAP last November and was the first American finisher in 24th place overall at the IAAF World Marathon Championships with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 49 seconds in Berlin on Aug. 22.
"Overall, my racing is going very well," he said. "To be able to run a 47-minute 10-mile a month after a marathon is a tough effort. When I was a lot younger, I came back from the world (marathon) championships and ran 49 minutes here, so things are in the right direction.
"I feel like this is my home," Browne said of returning from Team Nike to WCAP and working out at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. "This is where I'm supposed to be right now and I want to finish this thing well. I want to make this (Olympic) team for the Army and for everyone out there who's sacrificing. To me, I wouldn't choose another home."
Browne, 35, who missed the past four editions of the Army Ten-Miler, said he also felt back at home while running the race.
"I love it," he said. "I got to see a lot of West Point classmates and a lot of different people. It's funny; the Army really is relatively a very small community for having a million people. This is the most people I've ever seen at the Army Ten-Miler and it's just really exciting to see the event grow. I'll come back and run strong again.
"I think about those guys overseas lots of times while I'm running and working hard. They're sacrificing for us, so my heart goes out when I'm out there racing."