FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- What began in 2013 as a gathering of Cairns Tower staff who loved running, soon evolved into a tight-knit team and a first-place finish in the Fort Rucker 10-Mile Relay three years later.

Anyone who travels up the steps of Cairns Tower can see the ribbons and trophies team members have helped earn, beginning in 2014 with the Black History Month 5K and culminating at the top of the tower with 2016's current achievements.

Scott Wuergler, Cairns Tower air traffic control specialist and team manager, is hesitant to call the routine gathering of runners from Cairns Tower a team -- he admits claiming first place in the 10-Mile Relay was a goal.

"We always want to have fun," he said. "But we wanted to win the relay. We gathered our best runners and trained hard leading up to the race. It was a great moment and we are very proud."

However, Wuergler insists the running group has always been rooted in esprit de corps, and serves as a way for the Cairns Tower family to have fun and learn more about each other.

"We open it up to anyone who is associated with Cairns Tower," he said. "We've had current staff, former staff, wives, girlfriends and even people who will soon report for duty.

"It is really just a way for everyone to get know each other a bit better, enjoy camaraderie, get fit and compete together," he added.

Spc. Alex Stammeyer, B Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment, team member who joined last year and helped lead the team to its first place 10-Mile Relay finish this year, echoed Wuergler's sentiment.

"I think it is about forming a close-knit family at Cairns Tower," he said. "We can gather and have fun while doing something healthy. It's been a great experience."

According to Wuergler, the team competes in as many races as possible and hopes to continue adding to the floor-by-floor displays.

"Someone commented that we keep getting more and more banners," he said. "It used to be that, when they saw the banners, it meant you were almost to the top of the stairs."

Although Wuergler currently serves as the team's manager, he is adamant about where it all began.

"Sgt. Raquel Alvarez was instrumental in 2013 when Cairns Tower started our team 5K tradition," he said. "The Cairns Tower 5K team was a non-starter before her arrival at Cairns Tower and would have remained an unrealized aspiration without her motivation and enthusiasm. Like many of the Soldiers that have left, she remains interested in the ongoing success of the team. We are glad that she and many of the others still consider themselves part of the Cairns Tower family."