FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Although the Army Ten-Miler has gone largely virtual the last two years, Dr. Raymond Vazquez hasn’t let that stop him from keeping his streak alive.
Vazquez, an Army and Navy veteran with nearly 40 years combined service and avid runner in his younger years, has participated in the event for seven consecutive years.
First taking part in the Ten-Miler as an Army ROTC cadet in 1986, it’s a tradition that Vazquez has rekindled as a way to stay physically and mentally sharp into his civilian service, but also as a shared passion with his wife, Teresa.
“I created a monster,” Vazquez laughed, talking about his wife. “She had never been a big runner or anything like that, but she walks all the time. I’m talking like six, seven miles almost every day.
“I use running, and now mostly walking, as an outlet,” he added. “That’s what my wife loves about it. That’s one of her main focuses. She says when she gets out there, it’s just great to be able to clear her head.”
In addition to the Army Ten-Miler, Vazquez, who currently serves as chief of staff for the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, also completed the Marine Corps Marathon 10K and Turkey Trot 10K, as well as the Medal Dash Peanuts Holiday 5K -- all in less than a month.
His love of running started out of necessity to stay fit during his Navy service in his younger years. Vazquez enlisted and served as a Sailor for about five years before deciding to go back to school and earn his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at University of Puerto Rico.
During his time in college, he realized just how much he missed his time in the military. Vazquez considered the ROTC program at Puerto Rico, deciding to join the ranks of the Army.
“It’s different, but it’s all a brotherhood,” he said of serving in two different military branches. “We’re really comrades in arms, and the truth is, I really enjoyed my time in the Navy. Going back to school really made me miss serving.”
After he was commissioned in 1987, Army leaders encouraged Vazquez to continue his schooling through an educational delay. Over the next decade, he earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate in biochemistry.
In 1999, Vazquez returned to active duty as a captain, working on countermeasures against chemical weapons at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. About two years later, he was selected to serve as aide-de-camp to then Maj. Gen. Lester Martinez Lopez, a fellow native Puerto Rican and the first Hispanic leader of the former Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick.
“That was my first experience here at Fort Detrick in 2001,” Vazquez said. “I spent a couple years with him and that’s when I went all over the world.”
Vazquez, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2018 and now resides in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, said he really developed his love for running and walking during his different assignments abroad, as well as in duty stations with beautiful surroundings, like in Hawaii.
Even though he mostly walks now rather than runs, Vazquez said he looks forward to participating in the Army Ten-Miler in person again to keep the tradition going.
The event typically draws about 35,000 registrants, starting and ending at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
“It’s so much more fun,” Vazquez said about the in-person event. “You get to see people that you served with years ago. That’s pretty cool.”