WASHINGTON — Step by step, U.S. Army Cpt. Leyla Kosakowski raced toward the finish line, adrenaline building the closer she got. As she neared the finished, the more and more she could hear the crowd roaring, cheering her to keep moving forward.
“When I crossed the finish line, I was excited,” said U.S. Army Cpt. Leyla Kosakowki, a chief force health protection officer with the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade. “It was a great race and I wasn’t tired. With all the spectators and volunteers, it was a great feeling to cross the finish line.”
Fort Bragg's all-women’s running team took home third place in the 38th Annual Army Ten-Miler (ATM) on Oct. 9 in Washington, DC. The team of seven spent the last three months training and building teamwork to create a cohesive bond.
“The team's morale was high because we got to see people we knew and had moved to different installations,” said Kosakowki. “Part of the route has a loop where you can see the faster runners ahead of you and we could wave or give each other a 'good job' to keep each other motivated. I liked that.”
This is the first time in two years that the Fort Bragg team ran in the ATM in-person as the race had been held virtually during COVID-19 restrictions. The ATM brings together over 35,000 runners from all over the world including service members, civilians, wheelchair and wounded warrior athletes.
“I think this year, in particular, was great because it was such a big event,” said U.S. Army Cpt. Alaina R. Mariano, a security officer with HHBN XVIII Airborne Corps. “It's a lot of people's favorite race. I think a lot of people can strive for it and it is very attainable.”
Kosakowski, who was on a training mission in Germany just three weeks prior to the race, never stopped training. While the rest of the team was training together, she was training alone. Due to Hurricane Ian, her flight was delayed. Kosakowski, jet lagged, rejoined the team just hours before they were scheduled to leave for the race. Despite all these setbacks, Kosakowski still came in 28th place in her age group running a 1:16:38 ten mile, with a 7:36 mile pace.
“We all were a little nervous before the race,” said Kosakowski. “It’s normal for that to happen, but as we warmed up for the race, the nervousness went away. It was replaced with excitement and the drive to do our best.”
As Soldiers begin to depart Fort Bragg for other duty stations, new recruits and new connections for the team open up. Any Soldier stationed on Fort Bragg can join one of the running teams and continue this competitive legacy.