There was a chill in the air and the early morning fog was just beginning to dissipate as more than 25 Soldiers from across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) gathered in front of Magrath Gym on May 10. Winter hats and gloves were removed, and the Soldiers began to stretch in preparation for a timed 10K run, each of them eager to earn a coveted spot on one of the three teams that will represent the installation at the Army Ten-Miler, which is held every October in Washington, D.C.
With a limit of 35,000 participants, the event is the second-largest 10-mile race in the United States, and slots fill up quickly, said Diane Sykes, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sports secretary. She was online waiting to reserve slots when pre-registration opened at 7 a.m. – the exact time that the qualifier run kicked off.
Sykes said that the division has been represented in the Army Ten-Miler every year since she began working at Fort Drum more than 30 years ago.
“We reserve spots for three teams of six Soldiers – a men’s team, a women’s team and a mixed team,” she said. “We hold two qualification runs – today and a second one in August.
After the second one, we choose team members and give a list of names of the runners who will be participating.”
First Lt. Aaron Catlin, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, was first to cross the finish line, with a time of 33:20. Catlin has tried out for the run four times in the past, and he went on to participate in the event in D.C. three times – once representing Fort Lewis, Wash., and twice representing Fort Drum.
Catlin, who also represented the 10th Mountain Division at the David E. Grange Army Best Ranger Competition in 2015, said that he enjoys challenges and he is always seeking to better himself.
“Whether it’s the Ten-Miler or Best Ranger, it’s really about pushing yourself and, hopefully, inspiring other Soldiers to push themselves too,” he said.
Capt. Bryce Livingston, commander of Hotel Forward Support Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, will coach the 10th Mountain Division teams for the second year in a row. Livingston has competed in the race five times – the first as part of the All-Army Team. He said that he feels privileged to have the opportunity to work with the group of elite Soldier-athletes.
“The team aspect of it is phenomenal,” he said. “As Soldiers, we already share a common bond. Competing together on a team strengthens that even more.”
Livingston said that his goal is to create a training plan that will prepare the teams for success.
“As a coach, you put together the best training schedule possible,” he said. “You have to remember that each of these athletes is – first and foremost – a Soldier. Balancing mission requirements with training for the Ten-Miler can be hard, but the runners who come out for this event are extremely dedicated.”
A second Army Ten-Miler qualifier run is planned for 7 a.m. Aug. 9 at Magrath Gym, but Livingston said that training will begin right away.
“We will make arrangements for those who did well today to start training during their regular PT time,” he said. “Even if a Soldier didn’t place at the very top at this qualifier, they can link up with us and come out and practice, then see how they do in August.”
Although Livingston said that his ultimate goal would be for one of the teams to place in the top three at the Army Ten-Miler, he said that showcasing the professionalism and abilities of the division is his priority.
“The 10th Mountain Division has a lot of prestige, and people will definitely be watching to see how we do,” he said. “It’s important to us that we represent the division well and show everyone that we absolutely stack up against any other division in the Army.”