WASHINGTON — Pfc. Paul Chelimo led his fellow Soldiers to take the top five male individual spots during the 31st anniversary of the Army Ten-Miler, Oct. 11.
This year's Army Ten-Miler, which began and ended at the Pentagon, included more than 30,000 runners. The race course crossed the Potomac River into Washington, D.C., traversing the National Mall area.
Near the end of the race, as the team headed toward the finish line, they broke out on their own and Chelimo was able to place first with a time of 48:19. He beat his own time of 51 minutes, from last year's race, when he finished in 30th place.
Chelimo, who's a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program, said he wouldn't have won without the help of his teammates.
"They're the reason I made it from 30th to first this year," he said. Chelimo said he's happy he finished his race season on a win and will be concentrating now on the Olympic trials in June.
"I love the United States, and I want to represent the Army in the Olympics," he said.
Just prior to the start of the race, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley explained that over the last 31 years, the Army Ten-Miler has attracted 344,000 runners. While this year's run has more than 30,000 competitors, the first race, back in 1985, had only 1,615.
The general also noted that some 100 wounded warriors, on various types of bicycles, "are leading the race."
Eric Fanning, the acting under secretary of the Army, told racers that as they prepared to run in the nation's capital, elsewhere there are "Army Ten-Miler shadow races all over the world, including Afghanistan, Kosovo, Egypt, Pakistan, Korea, all racing with you today."
Fanning also noted that the millions of dollars raised by the race will go toward Soldier and family programs.
Retired Army Capt. Will Reynolds took third in the men's overall wounded warrior category with a time of 1:18. He is a bilateral amputee and ran with prosthetics. He cut his time down from 1:32 last year.
"I felt good out there, and I'm very happy with my performance," he said. "It's great being able to get in this environment with all of these active-duty Army service members and veterans. It's just a great event to keep that Army and service community strong."
He said he appreciated the crowds.
"For a motivation factor, this race is one of the best," he said. "There's never a quarter mile where somebody's not cheering for you. It's awesome."
Reynolds said for him, the Army Ten-Miler is more than just running.
"It's about that Army alumni and active-duty network and giving us a venue where we can get together every year and celebrate our tradition and our heritage right here at the Department of Defense headquarters," he said.
Reynolds' next run is the Philadelphia marathon in late November, his first with the prosthetics.
For Penny Nalband, from Litchfield, Connecticut, the race wasn't as much about winning as it was about remembering.
On the back of her shirt, she carried the photos of two Soldiers, 1st Sgt. Andrew McKenna, a family friend who died, Aug. 7, 2015, in Afghanistan, and her father, Steven J. Loomis, who passed away two years ago Saturday.
"I ran for them and for the men and women in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines," she said. "It was something I felt I had to do because [for] every one of those who gave their lives for their country, I want to keep their memories alive & — that's what's important."
She said she was honored to run behind the wounded warriors and active, Guard and Reserve service members who were running in the Army Ten-Miler.
"Those were big shoes to fill, running behind them," she said. "They were amazing. I can't imagine going through what they do, but we have to continually support these men and women, especially those who return injured. We have to help them reclaim their lives. Running this race, it was just amazing."
Physical Fitness No. 1
After the Army Ten-Miler concluded, and prior to the awards presentation, Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Guden, who serves as the command sergeant major for Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region as well as for the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, explained how the Army Ten-Miler goes hand-in-hand with one of the most critical components of soldiering: fitness.
"As an Army, we've always put ourselves on the forefront of physical fitness. It's one of those things that we cannot afford not to have," Guden said.
Guden noted that being physically fit is part of every Soldier's job, not just those participating in the Army Ten-Miler. "We cannot do the job the American people ask us to do if we're not physically fit enough to go out to do it."
The race also represents "camaraderie, toughness, honoring our wounded warriors, and us coming together as an Army in this nation's capital," Guden said. "It means so much in many ways."
Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, who serves as the commander of Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, said he was impressed with service members in the race who entered, and competed, despite being wounded.
"The wounded warriors are truly inspirational," he said. "They get out there and lead the way."
Becker also said the race serves as a great opportunity for civilians to interact with service members. Because so many of the competitors are civilians, he said, "it's a chance to showcase the Army and to connect with the local community and show what we're all about."
One such civilian was Tina Muir, a Lexington, Kentucky, resident originally from the United Kingdom. Muir won the top female spot with a time of 55:20. She said she was excited and motivated.
"It felt great, and I was really excited," she said. "I train mostly on my own or with my husband, who's also my coach. Being surrounded by people and having guys who ran alongside me and kind of pushed me, it made me feel strong."
She said she picked the Army Ten Miler because of her sense of patriotism.
"I'm from England but I love America," she said. "It's my home, and I know they help keep me safe and make sure it's the great place it is. It means a lot."
The eleven-time collegiate All-American cross-country, 5K and 10K runner said she was blown away by watching all of the servicemen and women and wounded warriors who were participating by either running or competing using adaptive equipment during the race.
Another aspect of the race she particularly enjoyed, she said, was seeing the scenery in Washington.
"I enjoyed running past the monuments and museums and starting and finishing by the Pentagon," she said. "I'd never seen it before today and just thinking about how important that is in my life in America, it's amazing to think about."
She encourages everyone to come out to run the race or to just give running a try.
"It doesn't matter what speed you run, how far you run, what you look like, as long as you're out there doing it and accomplishing something for yourself, that's what matters. It doesn't matter if you run a 20-minute mile; you're doing it," she said. "It's all positive; just give it a try."
Another civilian racer, Perry Shoemaker, took second place for female runners and first place in the women's master category for 40 and over. Her time this year, 57:31, was the best of the three Army Ten-Milers she's entered. That time was also a course record for the women's masters, she added.
Shoemaker, who is 44, teaches preschool in Vienna, Virginia. She said she finds time to watch her three children, ages 8, 14 and 16 at races as well.
"It's wonderful and inspiring to join the wounded warriors in the race," she added.
Winners in the 2015 Army Ten-Miler include:
-- First Place Overall Male: Paul Chelimo, 48:19 -- Second Place Overall Male: Nicholas Kipruto, 48:19 -- Third Place Overall Male: Shadrack Kipchirchir, 48:20
-- First Place Overall Female: Tina Muir, 55:20 -- Second Place Overall Female: Perry Shoemaker, 57:31 -- Third Place Overall Female: Stephanie Bryan, 57:46
-- Masters Male: Scott Weeks, 53:40 -- Masters Female: Perry Shoemaker, 57:31
-- First Place Male Wounded Warrior: Mark Holbert, 41:32 -- Second Place Male Wounded Warrior: Gregory Gadson, 49:21 -- Third Place Male Wounded Warrior: William Latham, 53:52
-- First Place Female Wounded Warrior: Karen Holman, 55:19 -- Second Place Female Wounded Warrior: Elizabeth O'Connor, 1:30:50 -- No third place female wounded warrior
-- Male Push-Rim Wheelchair: Nicholas McCoy, 1:03:17 -- Female Push-Rim Wheelchair: Kelly Elmlinger, 49:57
-- Male Hand-Cycle Wheelchair: Michael Murphy, 32:13 -- Female Hand-Cycle Wheelchair: Dianne Sumner, 47:19
-- First Place Overall U.S. Military Male: Paul Chelimo, 48:19 -- Second Place Overall U.S. Military Male: Nicholas Kipruto, 48:19