WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Army's 2019 Army 10-Miler brought out more than 35,000 runners for this year's event on one of the first crisp fall mornings.
Three teams from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, Research or Die, Sole Mates and ARL Strong, included twenty-one CCDC ARL participants from multiple departments.
"The 10-Miler was an opportunity to bring ARL people together who have never met," said Keith Taylor, retired sergeant major and former senior enlisted advisor who now works in the lab's Protocol Office.
Taylor and current ARL Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Snipes recruited and helped organize ARL's participation this year.
On the day race registration opened, Taylor reserved enough slots for two teams, and when interest grew, he reserved room for a third ARL team.
"The race built a better team of folks at work, introduced new people to one another and gained some additional respect for each team member," Snipes said.
"The benefits of participating in this event were not only for fun, but also because the team mindset bleeds over to the work environment and opens up collaborative opportunities," Taylor said.
The first 10-Miler was run in October of 1985. Over the last 35 years, more than 420,478 participants have run in the race, to include wounded warrior athletes, military and civilians.
The 10-Miler's success and popularity is in no small part due to the 1,800 Soldier and civilian volunteers tirelessly working to host an unparalleled race, Taylor said.
All race proceeds go to Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. To date, more than $7.3 million has been raised. The MWR program is a quality-of-life program that provides support activities and services for military communities and families.
Runners took in historic views of the capital on their route.
The start and finish lines at the Pentagon, brought together volunteers as they waited to assist runners to post-race nourishment.
Miles one and two dashed down the Jefferson Davis Highway before crossing over the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge.
Runners then sprinted by the Watergate, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, the Lincoln Memorial, and down Independence Avenue to pass the Korean War Memorial and the Washington Monument.
During mile six, runners passed a crowded cheering spectators and boisterous bands.
The last few miles looped past the Jefferson Memorial and over the Arland D. Williams, Jr. Memorial Bridge before racing past an exuberantly supportive crowd at the finish line.
What makes the Army 10-Miler truly unique is its atmospheric buoyancy created by participant camaraderie, Snipes said.
Runners freely offered support, cheers and encouragement to strangers. Participants thanked runners wearing blue bibs in memory of lost military loved ones for their Soldier's sacrifice. Tears, sweat and personal victories splashed alongside the cheering military personnel manning the five water stations along the route.
The comradery of all 35,000 plus folks that showed up, crossing the finish line and taking group photos were some of Snipes' favorite aspects of the race.
Taylor said the community patriotism, the pre-race respect for the National Anthem and seeing the enthusiasm for participating wounded warriors are all pieces of what "make this event so meaningful."
Snipes and Taylor said they are already looking forward to the 2020 10-Miler.
"I will be reserving teams again for ARL," Taylor said. "Hopefully, there will be enough interest to make four teams."
For those who may be intimidated by the race's big mileage, Snipes recommend that more of our ARL family get involved.
"When we can break bread in a relaxed environment outside of work, it brings us so much closer as an organization," Snipes said. "Ten miles is a daunting task, but very attainable. You just need a positive mindset and heart to believe you can finish, and you will. It can be intimidating, so start with the mindset of finishing and not trying to break any records, eat properly the day before, hydrate and pace yourself."
Taylor said there is nothing to be afraid of.
"This event is for all ages and all fitness levels," Taylor said. "You'd be shocked by the amount of people who walk the entire route. The run is more for the environment, the comradery and support of the cause than to be competitive."
The CCDC Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.