ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Oct. 6, 2008) -- About 26,000 runners and 4,000 others converged in the Pentagram's South Parking lot Sunday morning for the 24th Annual Army Ten Miler.

Fort Bliss, Texas, fielded the winning Active Duty Men's team for the largest 10-mile race in America, and the second largest in the world. Fort Bragg, N.C., won the Active Duty Women's category.

Reginaldo Campos Jr. of Washington D.C. took first place overall, with a time 48:59. Reena Veddy of Centreville, Va. won the women's category with a time of 58:08.

Participants ran the course, which followed Route 27 to the Arlington Memorial Bridge, a loop around the Department of State Building and the Watergate Hotel, then down Independence Avenue to I-395 back to the Pentagon.

"The Army Ten-Miler represents the race for excellence, it's the Army's race," said Jim Vandak, race director. "There's a pretty large trophy that goes to the best military male and female teams, and with those comes bragging rights."

The day began with an aerial display by the Army's Golden Knights and the Canadian SkyHawks, Canada's premier parachute demonstration team. With parachutes bearing the flags of their respective countries and followed by a trail of red smoke, they got the crowd in the mood for the festivities to come.

Runners came from all 50 states and Washington D.C., as well as participants from Brazil, Canada, Israel, Ireland and Sweden. Thirty-one percent of the runners were military.
The day was about more than just the race, however. Thousands showed up to support their family member, friend or co-worker and stayed to enjoy the number of exhibits, food and bands that were present.

"We've come every year since my husband ran [in 2003]," said Sidney Harkins of Triangle, Va. "It's a great way to spend a day with the family, even if you're not running."
Fort Myer took first place in the Active Duty Men's Masters Category, with a combined team time of 4:03:42, winning by an almost three-minute margin.

Military installations such as Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Lee, Va.; and Fort Campbell, Ky., also fielded teams in the race and set up booths to showcase their installation. Teams from Hawaii, Germany, South Korea and Brazil competed. Those teams also had displays and booths set up for bystanders to view.

One was unable to walk through the event at any time without hearing live music of some sort. Fort Hood's country ensemble, made up of members from their 1st Cavalry Regiment, played throughout the day, and drew a crowd constantly.

Army Ten Miler mainstays, the Crimestoppers , played in the hour preceding the awards presentation, making this their third appearance in as many years.

After closing with Neil Young's "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World" and Cream's "Crossroads," the Crimestoppers gave the stage over to Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe, commanding general, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington.

Rowe was first handed a baton used in flight by the Golden Knights, and was also presented a lithograph of the Knights in Flight. The SkyHawks also presented Rowe with a lithograph.
In support of the Army Ten-Miler, several shadow races were run around the world in more than 12 camps and bases, including Afghanistan and Iraq. Five thousand runners competed in the shadow races.

Wrapping up the running portion of the ten-miler were more than 300 children participating in their own version of the Army Ten Miler, the Health Net Federal Services Youth Runs. Children K-3 ran a 100 meter sprint to the finish and kids in grades fourth through eighth participated in the 200 meter competition.

The were several Army senior officials on hand supporting the event, including Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr.

(Alex McVeigh and Frederick Poole write for the Pentagram newspaper at Fort Myer, Va.)