Approximately 900 participants ran in the 11th annual Army Birthday 10-Miler on Fort Bragg Friday. The men's overall champion was Derek Fenton, 37, of Holly Springs, N.C. who finished in 55:46. The women's overall champion was Donna M. Palisca, 29, who finished the race in 1:07:21. "My goal was to break 70 minutes," said Palisca. Palisca said she was in a rush during the race. "In three hours my husband is deploying to Iraq, so I wanted to get back to see him off."

Runners began arriving at the starting point around 6 a.m., and they were given time to stretch before the race kicked off at 6:30 a.m. Some runners were trying to improve their times from previous races they had run.

Spc. Richard Rogers, a food service specialist in the 37th Engineer Battalion, was running the Army Birthday 10-Miler for his second year in a row, he said. "I placed third in last-year's race," said Rogers. "I want to get under an hour. I've been practicing."

Staff Sgt. Marco Rodriguez, a shop foreman with C Company, 27th Engineer Battalion, said he ran an Army 10-miler in Afghanistan last year in 1:10:00. "This time I hope to finish in an hour," said Rodriguez.

Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, gave the participants some words of encouragement shortly before the race began. "There's no better way to start the day at the home of the airborne," said Cody. "There's no better way to start celebrating the Army's 232nd Birthday than with a little 'shuffle' to see who's strong, and who is airborne Army Strong," referring to the moral fiber and determination every Soldier carries.

After the participants had completed the race on the track at Hedrick Stadium, they were given a chance to rest, stretch, drink water, and eat some fruit on the field at the stadium. Mary E. Osinski, 45, wife of a retired service member, said running is something she can do for herself. It provides her with a little bit of personal time. Osinski placed second in her age group with a time of 1:25:57. "It was a good race," said Osinski. "It was tough at the end, but I did well."

Sgt. German Sanchez, A Troop, 3rd Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was just hours away from answering the call to duty in Iraq when he ran the 10-miler. "I figured I'd leave with a bang," said Sanchez, "I think I ran it in about 112 minutes; I was shooting for 120 minutes."

The race began on Longstreet Road near Lee Physical Fitness Center. The bulk of the race was run along Longstreet Road and Gruber Road. Runners were given water at seven different water points throughout the course. At 8:45 a.m., those runners who placed in the different brackets were awarded plaques by Col. Mason Thornal, deputy chief of staff for the XVIII Airborne Corps, during a ceremony at Hedrick Stadium.

Afterward, participants were invited to help celebrate the Army's 232nd birthday with the cutting of the birthday cake by Thornal. The Army's official birthday is June 14.