FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 6, 2011) -- More than 200 participants came out to make the journey from Fort Rucker's Ozark gate to its Daleville gate Oct. 1 during the annual Hispanic Heritage Month Gate-to-Gate run.

Paula Bair, 1st Aviation Brigade equal opportunity adviser, said the number of people who came out this year was higher than previous years, and showed a lot of community growth and unity.

"It goes to show that there's a lot of community involvement here," she said. "While the run itself was here before Hispanic Heritage Month, it worked well as a way to celebrate diversity because so many different people enjoy doing this."

Bair added that the outside communities also came out to participate, indicating that the annual event has a longer reach than just the Fort Rucker communities.

"It really brings the community, inside and outside, Fort Rucker together," she said. "The more diverse cultures you have at an event, it means more people are learning, and getting outside their own culture and learning something new."

While the event was meant to be part of a larger goal of unity, the run was still a competition and those with more running experience definitely showcased their talents.

The overall winner of the event was 2nd Lt. Michael Spears, Fort Rucker Army 10-Miler team member, with a time of 24:01.

Spears and several other members of the 10-Miler team competed as a way to judge where they stood in terms of being ready for the Army-wide competition in Washington Sunday.

Spears said the first mile was the easiest part of the race, but when the hills started in the second mile, things started to get more challenging.

"It started to hit us in the second mile," he said. "In the first mile we all tried to keep the same pace and stay together, but the hill probably slowed us down about 20 seconds in the second mile. After the first mile, we realized that if we wanted to get the times we wanted, we had to increase the pace a bit."

By the end of the race, three of the top four times were from the Fort Rucker Army 10-Miler team, according to 1st Sgt. Jeffery Herzog, team coach.

He added that being able to do this event well showed the team is more than ready for the competition in D.C.

"I feel outstanding because we took those top spots," he said. "If that's any indication of what's to come, I'm very excited."

Spears added that he thought the event was also a great way for people of various backgrounds to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

"I think it's great for the community," he said. "It's great to see so many people, including a lot of people from the Hispanic community, coming out to participate and share their heritage with us."