Army of volunteers support this year's ten-miler
October 26, 2012
Behind the scenes at the Army Ten-Miler was a hubbub of volunteers representing numerous organizations supporting servicemembers, runners and spectators.
A temporary tent city emerged in the north parking lot at the Pentagon Oct. 21, with corporate sponsors, non-profit groups, military fraternal organizations and installations fielding running teams setting up booths along the periphery of the race. The volunteers distributed information, food, beverages, logoed tote bags and other souvenirs in the race's expo area.
One of the most popular stations at the expo, particularly in the cold early morning hours before the race began, was the Mobile USO. The vehicle, which includes a lounge, game room and canteen, distributed coffee and hot chocolate to patrons during 40 degree temperatures Sunday morning well before the onset of dawn.
Christi Lineberry, a Mobile USO specialist, said four volunteers were in the Pentagon lot at 3:30 a.m. distributing hot beverages the day of the race.
Except for a lull when the race started, she said there was a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. A volunteer at last year's race, Lineberry said this year was more bearable because it was even colder last year.
"We want to support all our troops and get the word out about USO Metro's services," said Lauren Hebert, Mobile USO coordinator, describing the reason for the group's presence. She said the organization served 1,200 people at the Army Ten-Miler, and that it will be present at the Marine Corps Marathon.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Whitey Hoiseth helped man the booth for the Fort Polk, La., chapter of the Association of the United States Army at the ATM, a popular destination because the group ladled out steaming cups of jambalya and distributed Mardi Gras beads. A long line of people snaked across the parking lot.
Hoiseth said he was at the first Army Ten-Miler and remembers when it was mostly just a run without all the attending hoopla. "The Hooah tents have been getting bigger and better every year," he said. "It's the camaraderie" that keeps bringing him back year after year, the retired command sergeant major said.
Midway through the race, Dr. (Lt. Col.) Darlene Smallman, who oversaw the ten-miler medic tent, said few runners had been sidelined, with only one musculoskeletal injury reported so far. She pointed out ice cube-filled bins -- ice baths -- set aside in anticipation of treating overheated runners. Approximately 128 emergency medical personnel, including staff from the Arlington County Fire Department, were on hand to tend to runners., including mobile bike teams.
Cpt. Don Watkins, Arlington County Fire Department program manager for special events, said it's always good to have extra manpower for contingencies on the scene. He said county emergency medical service personnel had to transport eight runners to area hospitals race day.
Staff Sgt. Tony Bell from Fort Gordon, Ga., who has run in past ten-milers, was at this year's race largely to cheer on his wife Shanica from the sidelines. While on site, he stopped by the Army's Reserve Officers Training Corps tent to talk with representatives Capt. Erik Jorgensen from St. Bonaventure University and Master Sgt. Michael Guynn of Howard University.
"I came to find out how I could be an officer, how I could lead," said Bell. "I'm surprised how many people don't know how officers are produced," he added, citing programs like Green to Gold. Jorgensen, who last ran the ten-miler in 2005, said the event serves as a kind of reunion. "You run into people you've served with in the past," the captain said. "I'm always surprised what a small world the Army is as an organization. It's great to support this event."
Guynn said a lot of high school juniors and seniors had stopped by to see how they could get into the ROTC program. "I know when I was coming up nobody told me about it," he said.
Olga Santiago, the wife of a retired Soldier, stopped by the Fort Hood, Texas, tent to talk with Soldiers from its cavalry division who dressed in 19th century uniforms and displayed the saddles and boots crafted in the unit's leather shop. This was the second year The U.S. Army Band's Downrange contemporary music group was on scene at the Army Ten-miler.
"Everybody's upbeat and pumped for this," said Sgt. 1st Class Christal Rheams, Downrange vocalist. "You get to see the waves of runners and the Golden Knights [parachute team].
Downrange played a Beatles' medley and other selections toward the end of the race, with recovering runners listening as they splayed out on the parking lot tarmac in yoga-like poses stretching hamstrings and other aching muscles.
One of those recovering runners, Master Sgt. Michael Tolbert from Fort Drum, N.Y., stretched his legs languidly on the asphalt to Downrange harmonies. "This was my first time. I tried to run together with the 40 [year-old] and above masters," he said, "but the [crowd] was a mess in the front … affecting my pace." Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard's) 529th Regimental Support Company were on hand at the end of the race passing out souvenir ATM hats to runners as they wearily lined up to take shuttle buses at the conclusion of the race.
"It's a great event to support," said Staff Sgt. Don Polite.