FORT RILEY — The discipline soldiers learn in their training can pay off beyond the battlefield — and it did for a group of runners from Fort Riley.
A team of 1st Infantry Division troops competed in the Army Ten-Miler on Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C., and finished third in their category, “Active Duty Open: Mixed.”
Sgt. Jonathan Dominguez, a first-year member of the team, said they worked well together.
“There was a cohesion between us,” he said. “We had a good team.”
The team’s training regimen had them running a minimum of eight miles a day, sometimes as many as 16. They also did worked on speed two days a week, when they would run four to six miles trying to maintain their pace for the race.
The months of work came to a head on race day, when almost 30,000 runners gathered at the starting line.
Runners were divided into groups based on speed, and all members of the 1st Infantry Division team were in the fastest group.
1st Lt. Chris Odekirk, who was the team’s fastest runner and finished 110th, said the scene got chaotic close to race time. He and the other runners had to wander through the crowds just to find each other.
“Normally I do two miles as a warm-up, but I think that day I did five miles just trying to find everybody,” he said.
Even with a staggered beginning to the race, Dominguez said the starting line was still densely populated.
“When the gun popped, we were still walking because there were so many people,” he said.
Once the competitors got going, they ran a route that gave them a view of multiple D.C. sights. They had a chance to see the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol.
But what Odekirk noticed most was the people cheering from the sidelines.
Odekirk said he has been running since he was 8 or 9 years old, but the Ten-Miler is his favorite race because of the crowds.
“Wherever you go, there are always people cheering for you,” he said.
At the end of the race, the team took a group photo with their trophy, which Dominguez said felt like the end of a positive and fun experience.
This was partially because some of the runners will be leaving Fort Riley and won’t be on the team next year.
“I was looking forward to this race for a while, but it was bittersweet,” he said.
The team might not be the same in the future, but Odekirk said the experience was rewarding.
“It was nice to see all the hard work that people put in come off in the form of a trophy.”