CAMP CASEY, South Korea – Approximately 35,000 people from around the world arrived in Washington D.C., in late October to take part in one of the largest Army races. In the end, a team from the 2nd Infantry Division was among the top competitors.
As a way to promote the Army, build espirit de corps, support Army fitness, and enhance community relations; the annual Army 10-Miler race is held in Washington D.C., every October.
In addition to placing ninth out of the 41 teams, a member of Team Korea was able to accomplish a personal goal; finishing in the top 500 of a major race.
“You look behind and all the way up to the horizon and all you saw were people,” said Sgt. John Rodriguez, a native of Aiea, Hawaii, and a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Inf., Div. “People were cheering [for us] every step of the way.”
The Army 10-Miler has become a tradition for the Army and for the runners who compete.
“This is my eighth time running in the event,” said Capt. Eder G. Bennett, from Stanford, Conn., the company commander for Bravo Field Maintenance Company, 70th Brigade Support Battalion, 210th Fires Bde. “I love to run and compete. I have been on the Fort Bragg, Fort Lee and the Fort Drum 10-Miler teams.”
Rodriguez understood when he took the trip to the Capitol he wasn’t there for a vacation; he was there to do a job.
“Being that we were in D.C., we ran past all the major monuments; but that’s the last thing on your mind when you are competing in a major competition,” said Rodriguez.
The majesty of the National Mall and Memorial Parks did not distract the marathoner; it inspired him.
“Being in a different environment provided me a chance to concentrate on running a lot more,” he said.
According to Rodriguez, the key to his success was pushing up to the beginning at the starting line and having a good workout plan.
“It is good to have a good foundation so you know how much pain your body will be able to withstand,” he said. “My workout plan consists of a distance day, an interval day, a hill day and a taper-down [such as a pool workout or stretching] day.”
Rodriguez runs up to 50 miles per week. According to him, soldiers that are physically fit can perform their duties a lot better and more efficiently. He believes that because soldiers are expected to perform at a high level, running allows the body to be in the best physical condition to accomplish just about every task.
“When you are out there running and your body wants to shut down or give up, you have to think about the person who stands to your right and left who needs you to push on,” he said.
Rodriguez encourages that running with someone will improve your time and push you to do your best. He explained that if someone is a strong interval person but not a strong distance person, they should work out with someone who is a strong distance person but not a strong interval person.
“When you are by yourself, it’s hard to assess how well you are doing,” said Bennett. “So if you are training with someone who is faster than you are. It helps to improve as you go.”
Finishing ninth overall at the Army 10-Miler has provided a foundation for Team Korea to build on. They are looking forward to competing in more races around the Korean Peninsula and hopefully taking first place next year.