2nd Fort Drum Army Ten Miler Qualifer wb.JPG

Runners from across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) participate in the second of three qualifiers on June 15 for a chance to represent Fort Drum at the 2023 Army Ten-Miler on Oct. 8 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Soldiers race to earn spot on Army Ten-Miler Team

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 15, 2023) – Two qualifying races completed and one to go, as 15 Soldiers from across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) tested their speed and endurance on the road June 15 for a chance to compete in the 2023 Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C.

Returning for his second qualifier, Staff Sgt. Santiago Gonzales placed first and bested his previous time by five seconds (34:40).

“I just finished BRC (Best Ranger Competition) for 2023, and I was looking for the next challenge and the Army Ten-Miler seemed like the best one for me,” he said.

Gonzales, with 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, said he is incorporating the qualifiers into a 16-week training program for the Army Ten-Miler.

“I’ve never run the Army Ten-Miler before, so this is what I need to do to get ready. I ran cross country in high school, but I left competitive running as soon as I joined the Army. I’ve been in for 12 years and only recently picked up running again after the 2022 BRC.”

After his race, Gonzalez stayed near the finish line to congratulate the other runners and meet potential teammates. That was something he was unable to do last time when he crossed the finish line and almost immediately made a beeline to his car.

“Yeah, I’ve got six kids and I had appointments to go to,” he said with a laugh.

First Lt. Hannah Watson, with 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, recorded the fastest time among female competitors (44:59). Watson said she is looking forward to running her first road race at the Army Ten-Miler.

“I’ve always loved competing,” she said. “And after I graduated college, I thought I’d pick up running, because it seemed like a good balance from what I was used to with training and competing.”

Watson rowed on the University of Virginia’s varsity team that placed seventh at the NCAA Championships.

“I always feel like I need something to train for, and competitiveness in engrained me, so I am really looking forward to the Army Ten-Miler,” she said.

First Lt. Joe Karslo, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, recently finished his career with the All-Army Soccer Team where he served as a team captain. The team won gold after a hard-fought win over the Marine Corps team during the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship.

“The support that I received from Fort Drum FMWR (Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation) and my 1st BCT leadership was awesome because it allowed me to train and compete at the highest level in my sport,” Karslo said. “It was an amazing opportunity, and to win gold and beat the Marines on their home turf was an incredible experience. Knowing how the Army is, and how competitive we are, it was amazing we could say ‘Go Army’ at the end and win that gold medal.”

Now he has his sights set on the Army Ten-Miler.

“It’s always about finding what’s next – what is the next challenge to drive me,” he said. “I believe that we, as leaders, must lead from the front. So, coming out here and doing this is kind of setting the bar for our Soldiers and our peers. It allows me to show my competitive nature, and it gives me something to train for.”

Karslo finished with a 39:18 time, but he is striving for a much better result in the July qualifier.

“I’m hoping to shave off another two minutes,” he said. “I’m not going to lie; the All-Army Soccer season took a lot out of me – I’m the oldest guy on the team – so trying to keep up with the younger Soldiers wasn’t easy. I wasn’t running much after that because my focus was on core stability and stretching to get me back to 100 percent.”

Karslo made the Fort Drum Army Ten-Miler Team two years ago, but a knee injury kept him from competing in the race.

“I was still a part of the team, got the cool jersey, and did some training runs, but I wasn’t able to go to D.C.,” he said. “Hopefully, this year I can stay healthy, train hard and actually run the race.”

The three qualifiers, hosted by Fort Drum FMWR, are open to all active-duty service members 18 or older. Event organizers said they can send a roster of 18 runners – six on the men’s, women’s, and mixed run teams – to represent the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum in the Oct. 8 race.

The final qualifier is scheduled at 7 a.m. July 13, outside Magrath Sports Complex. Registration begins at 6 a.m. For more information, call (315) 772-6663.

Photos from the qualifiers are available at www.flickr.com/photos/drum10thmountain/albums/72177720309084754.

The top finishers at last year’s Army Ten-Miler were Luke Peterson (49:59), a George Washington University law student, and Jenny Simpson (54:16), a four-time Olympic and world championship medalist in the 1,500-meter run.

But you don’t have to be a record holder or a record breaker to join thousands of runners at the Army Ten-Miler. Individuals who are unable to compete on the Fort Drum team but who are interested in running the Army Ten-Miler can still register for either the in-person or virtual race.

For more information, visit www.armytenmiler.com.