FORT MYER, Va. (Army News Service, Oct. 2, 2007) - A lot goes on behind the scenes at the annual Army Ten-Miler, all organized by the Fort Myer Military Community.

Fort Myer assets have been essential to getting the race ready for 22 years and planners are already organizing the 2008 event before the 2007 race has started.

John Newman, a plans and operations specialist in FMMC's Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization, said an FMMC bus does 'recon' along the designated course nearly two months before the October race. The run-through helps determine where to set up water stations, medic tents and other services to minister to the needs of the thousands of runners who pound the pavement the day of the race.

The FMMC Directorate of Logistics provides supplemental transportation buses to Old Guard Soldiers working the event, and oversees a flatbed truck and two "cherrypickers" that to give media better event visuals, he said. The cherrypickers will give camera crews a unique vantage at the start of the race, while a three-ton flat bed paces runners from the front of the race.

Vic Calder, a transportation-operations supervisor with DOL, said his people are usually in place by 4 a.m. the day of the race, making sure everything is set, and that buses can be used as barricades to prevent runners from straying outside the course.

FMMC operates another bus for stragglers in the race, picking up those that haven't made it over the 14th Street Bridge by a designated time.

"They usually fight you because they don't want to get on the bus," explained Mr. Newman. "They think they can still finish the race."

Mr. Newman said each year builds upon the experiences of the previous year. He recalled a suspicious box found two years ago, which forced organizers to alter the course at the last minute. Unfortunately, a truck wasn't available to move the water stations and other equipment to the new route, which changed the parameters and nature of the race.

"It pretty much turned into a fun run at that point," he said, adding that a forklift is now kept on hand in case things need to be moved at the last minute.

The Army Ten-Miler is a major event, Mr. Newman said. "It's monumental work done in a short period with 20,000 runners assembling at one time."

(Michael Norris writes for the Fort Myer "Pentagram.")