By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsAugust 9, 2019
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 9, 2019) -- Soldiers across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum participated in the final 10K qualifier race Aug. 7 in hopes of getting on this year's Army Ten-Miler Team roster.
First Lt. Japheth Ngojoy, with C Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, secured his spot on the men's team, placing first among all runners with a 34:17 time. He previously ran a 32:41 at the first qualifier in May.
Ngojoy said it is an accomplishment to make the Army Ten-Miler Team, and having ran it six times before, it has become a tradition for him.
"It's a huge honor for me, and to represent the 10th Mountain Division is simply outstanding," he said.
Capt. Kelly MacDonald placed first among female runners, with a time of 41:30. Recently assigned to Fort Drum MEDDAC as a psychiatrist in the Behavioral Health Clinic, MacDonald said she is still familiarizing herself with the North Country.
"Every time I move someplace new, one of the first things I do is try to find a running team or a local race, because it is a really good way to learn about the community," she said. "I thought this would be a fun way to see a little bit more of the post and meet some other runners."
MacDonald had first competed in the Army Ten-Miler as a West Point cadet from the Class of 2011, and she ran it while in residency at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
"The Army Ten-Miler is a great race," she said. "Every year that I've run it, I see people that I know and I run into friends."
MacDonald is no stranger to long-distance races, having participated in everything from 25-milers to 100-milers and some of the toughest ultramarathons and trail races in the country. In June, she completed the Manitou Revenge 54-miler in Windham, New York, where she finished 13th overall and first among female competitors.
Capt. Alyia Sones shaved just over a minute from her first qualifying time in May to finish second among female runners at 41:57. In third was Capt. Erin Kocher, with the 91st Military Police Battalion, who ran 33 seconds faster than her previous time for a 43:12 finish.
"I actually thought I would run the same time as the initial qualifier, so I'm pretty excited that I improved my time by over 30 seconds," she said.
Kocher ran the Army Ten-Miler twice as an individual, and this will be her first time running on a team.
"This is something I wanted to do at Fort Drum, because I felt I was at the right point in my training to make the team and compete with my unit at the Army Ten-Miler," she said.
Kocher has completed five marathons, to include the Marine Corps Marathon, and participated in the 2019 Bataan Memorial March in New Mexico.
Returning from last year's team, 1st Lt. John Evans, with 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, placed second among male runners. He improved upon his previous qualifier time by 35 seconds to record a 34:30 finish.
"I've run the Army Ten-Miler quite a few times, and it's always fun to go and represent the team," he said.
Between now and the Army Ten-Miler - scheduled Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C. - Evans said that he will continue running with the team and keep himself conditioned for the race, even while conducting field training with his unit.
"I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing and make sure that I taper appropriately as we get closer to the race," he said.
Since the first qualifier in May, runners had the option of attending team training sessions during the week. Capt. Hannah He, with 10th Mountain Division Artillery, schedules practices to include tempo runs, speed workouts, recovery runs and cross-training days.
"We didn't really focus on any consistent time trials to compare monthly progress, but we did see a lot of people who got better at being consistent at their pace over longer distances," He said.
She said that there will be a mileage jump once practices resume, as runners become focused on hitting their 10-mile pace goals.
"All of our tempo runs will be eight-plus miles, sprints will be a little bit longer in combined mileage and the long runs will probably be in the 10- to 12-mile range, instead of the six to eight as they have been," He said. "We're just going to work on getting our endurance up."
Kocher has taken advantage of this training since the May qualifier, and she said that she has benefited from the group runs.
"I appreciated the workouts tailored to improve my speed specifically for longer races," she said. "I often run in groups for daily unit training, but when training on my own, however, I usually just run with my dog."
The Fort Drum Army Ten-Miler Team roster was announced Aug. 9. The men's team is Japheth Ngojoy, John Evans, Ben Hoffman, Kody DeHaan, Ira Gallagher and Logan Hunt; with Juan Aguilar Barroso, Daryl Brown and Jackson Weash as alternates.
The women's team is Kelly MacDonald, Alyia Sones, Erin Kocher, Ashley Beasley, Amber Sims and Rachel Sawyer; with Elizabeth Boyer as alternate.
The mixed team is Garrett Thyr, Lemar Baliwag, Micah Peterson, Alicyn Coulter, Rebecca Briggs and Kimberly Olivier.