Training paid off for the 14 members of Team Alaska who competed in the Army Ten-Miler Oct. 9 in Washington, D.C., several of whom achieved personal records and shattered their qualifier times.
The team was comprised of runners with the fastest combined times from qualifiers at Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in May, with each installation being equally represented on a seven-member men's team and a seven-member mixed team.
Team captain 1st Lt. Marcus Farris with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at FWA ran with Team Alaska in 2015 and used his experience to build the training plan for the 2016 competitors.
"The objective of the training plan was to strike a good balance between interval work, tempo work and easier endurance-paced work," Farris said. "Since the runners were allowed to train outside their normal units, I tried to vary the location to keep the runs fresh."
Training alongside each other also helped the team become stronger as a whole, he said.
"Members of the team would meet two or more times a week," Farris said, "and having a team to run with helped sharpen each runner, versus training alone."
Pvt. Joseph Dillon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, said training with his JBER teammates helped him to be well prepared to compete at the Ten-Miler.
"I trained mostly with Samson Mutua, who is a great inspiration to train hard every day," Dillon said. "I believe running with this team made me an overall better competitor."
Spc. Samson Mutua of 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4-25th IBCT (ABN), gained from training alongside Dillon as well and ran the Ten-Miler in 54:33, more than three minutes less than his qualifier time, and ran his best two-mile time of 9:48 at the event.
"It has been my greatest goal to break 10 minutes in two miles," Mutua said. "This event gives me confidence to run two miles (in) under 10 minutes in the next APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test)."
Spc. Chelsea Scheuerman of Medical Activity-Alaska at JBER has run with Team Alaska for three consecutive years and has continually become a stronger competitor.
"Every year, I've gotten faster, and it's motivating," Scheuerman said, adding she had a goal to break 70 minutes at the Ten-Miler and ended up running 68:48. "Seeing the wounded warriors with prosthetics makes me appreciate my body and what it's capable of--even just six months after having a baby."
Farris said he not only benefitted from training with Team Alaska, but also helped pace himself with 1st Lt. Logan O'Day of 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, at the FWA qualifier and when competing in Washington, D.C.
"During the qualifier, we ran together for almost the whole race, so I knew he was a good person to pace off of," Farris said, adding he found O'Day about two miles into the Ten-Miler and ran with him for most of the race to keep his pace up.
O'Day said running together helped him and Farris push each other throughout the bulk of the event.
"Marcus and I really fed off of each other during the race until about mile six, when he started pulling away," O'Day said. "I knew that if I kept him in sight, I would have a good race."
And have a good race they did, with the Team Alaska men's team placing sixth out of 29 and the mixed team placing 10th out of 42.
"It was a fun run," Mutua said, appreciating the end result of the team's months of training and preparation for the event. "I feel very accomplished."
Men's team scores:
1) Japheth Ng'ojoy, FWA, 53:51.
2) Samson Mutua, JBER, 54:33.
3) Jason Coupe, FWA, 57:15.
4) Todd Delaney, FWA, 58:01.
5) Marcus Farris, FWA, 59:21.
6) Joseph Dillon, JBER, 1:03:21.
7) Tanvir Kalam, FWA, 1:04:33.
Mixed team scores:
1) Logan O'Day, FWA, 59:17.
2) David Cunningham, JBER, 1:02:51.
3) Matthew Glynn, JBER, 1:04:22.
4) Walberto Pagan, JBER, 1:05:22.
5) Chelsea Scheuerman, JBER, 1:08:48.
6) Thomas Bailey, JBER, 1:09:04.
7) Tierra Allen, FWA, 1:21:43.