The enthusiasm was high, bright and early Friday morning as 1862 participants ran, walked, rucked, or hand-cranked their way through 10 miles of Fort Bragg, during the 15th Annual Army Birthday 10-Miler.

For Spc. Caleb Balduff, member of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal recruiting team, motivation was key to the early race. Balduff dressed in a head to toe, one piece, American flag tracksuit for the birthday run.

“I got a lot of high fives along the way,” smiled Balduff. “As well as some slaps on the (butt).”
Even though the suit made it difficult for Balduff to breath, and he couldn’t drink water all that well, he said it was nice to see the smiles on the other participants faces.

“I run a lot of different races and I wanted to do something different this time,” explained Balduff. “I did it to motivate others as well as myself.”

Motivation and team/unit cohesion seemed to be the highlight of the race. The 578th Signal Company put together an 11 member team to build unit cohesion and trained for six weeks for the 10-miler.

“We put together a training plan that consisted of endurance and strength building,” explained 2nd Lt. Kindra Fiveash. “We built up mileage slowly, trained on the actual course and threw in cycling (training) for endurance.”

Sgt. James Myers, 82nd Airborne Division Soldier, commended the Family and Moral, Welfare, and Recreation on the course and the organization of the race.

“It was great to see so many people out there cheering us on and how many water points were available, especially with the heat,” Myers said. “Even all the after race vendors and snacks, they did a good job putting this together. Also, I was pretty impressed to see the 82nd (rock) band out here so early with so much motivation.”

Whether it was motivation or determination, Alexis Torre Santiago crossed the 10-miler’s finish line first in 55 minutes and 54 seconds. This is Santiago’s third consecutive victory in Fort Bragg’s Army Birthday run.

The long, 10-mile course consisted of many hills and everyone agreed the best part of the race was the finish line, but everyone said they will definitely run the race next year.