NEWS | Sept. 15, 2021

Kentucky Guard unit hosts Army 10-Miler

By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

About 200 runners, walkers and ruck marchers took part in the Army 10-Miler at Bluegrass Army Depot, hosted by the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Sept. 12.

This year's race was open to Soldiers and Airmen, their families, and the local community. The runners could run or ruck the entire ten miles or do the shorter 10k (6.1 miles) or 5k (3 miles).

The event was unique as the 20th Anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were commemorated the day before, and runners were encouraged to keep in mind all the lives lost on that fateful day.

"As you know, yesterday was Sept. 11," said Col. Kent Cavallini, commander of the 149th MEB, as he addressed the participants there. "We have spent 20 years fighting this war on terror, and as you run, think about the sacrifices that we've been through and others that gave their sacrifices. I think it's fitting that we're doing this event in September around that important date in American history. A lot of folks here took part in that response, so I thank you for that. Have a great time!"

First ran in 1985, the Army Ten-Miler race is usually held in Washington, D.C., aimed at promoting the Army, building esprit de corps, and supporting Army fitness goals. But when COVID-19 hit last year, the event shut down, and many turned to the virtual, alternative event. Thus the idea for a local Army Ten-Miler was born.

"Last year, during COVID protocols, people didn't have an option to go to Washington, but most of the folks that usually go to the Ten-Miler there were happy they were hosting a virtual Ten-Miler," said Maj. Jennifer Watson, training officer for the MEB. "We hopped on that momentum and worked with BGAD and the Morale Welfare and Recreation to find a closed ten-mile course that everybody can participate in--and still log their miles for the race--while having a safe venue that keeps the running community going."

"It's something we wanted to do as a brigade and nest with a drill weekend," she said. "We wanted to be a part of the Ten-Miler and not have to go all the way to D.C. And then, we wanted to include our community in that."

Watson is an avid runner and takes pride in helping build the running community within the Kentucky Guard. She passes the passion on to her children, who run track for their schools occasionally run the races with her.

"I've always enjoyed running and or just participating in sports in general," said Watson. "I feel the National Guard fosters that mentality, which allows me to set a good example for my family and Soldiers, stay fit, and not be satisfied with just the status quo. But, trying to improve every day--and running--is something you can tweak to further improve upon."

Watson's son and daughter took home the top prizes for their age groups, while she earned an overall top spot as the first female to cross the line after ten miles.
Participants of all ages enjoyed the race on the bright sunny morning at BGAD. As the race started, a UH-60 Blackhawk flew overhead as if to encourage the participants as they ran or walked.

A former Guardsman, Howard 'Leo' McMillen, 84, from Elizabethtown, Ky., was the oldest competitor and ran the 5k portion of the race. He finished second for his age group but said he ran for the camaraderie, not the competition.

"I've been doing this for a while, and I have some good friends who all meet up and have a good time doing this," he said.
Leo, as he goes by, added that he walks every day to stay in shape so he can continue to attend and compete in races such as this one. He ran this race with his daughter, Beth, and was one of several runners over the age of 80 that participated in the event.

The smiles on the faces of everyone--from the Army leaders, staff and participants--proved this was an event enjoyed by all.
"We were able to get over 200 runners registered (this year)," said Watson. "So I'm going to call that a success--especially for what we set out for."
Results of the race can be found at the run website here:

https://runsignup.com/Race/KY/Richmond/149thMEBLargeScaleRunOperation10Mile10K5K?fbclid=IwAR2P_Bhrg2_bb1rIV1fi0UT7x96m-1uGZpFb2LBz6sW_AdqwCy6umZe3Ibw