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Runners participate in the first of three qualifying races May 18 for a chance to represent Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division (LI) at the Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C., in October. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosts first of three Army Ten-Miler team qualifiers

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 18, 2023) – Soldiers toed the starting line outside Magrath Sports Complex on May 18 for a chance to join thousands of runners this fall at the annual Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C.

Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff hosted the first of three qualifying races to fill a roster of 18 runners. Those with the best times on the six-mile course will compete in either the men’s, women’s, or mixed team.

“We did this to make it more competitive and to give people more opportunities to try out,” said Jon Burnard, FMWR Sports, Fitness and Aquatics program coordinator. “We understand that everybody’s training schedule is different, so if you can’t make it today then you have another chance in June or July.”

He also factored in the upcoming Army PCS (permanent change of station) season, where an influx of Soldiers arriving at Fort Drum could yield a new crop of runners wanting to join the team.

“The whole goal here is to find the best runners and send the most competitive team we can to the Army Ten-Miler in October,” Burnard said. “Obviously, we’d like to win it for Fort Drum.”

Santiago Gonzales placed first at the qualifier, with a time of 34:45. No other information was available as he paused only a few seconds to catch his breath before sprinting away.

Maj. Aaron Anderson, with 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, credits the lead runner for setting the pace.

“I probably ran a little faster than I thought I would because I had that young buck in front of me, pulling me along,” he said. “So, I was happy with my time.”

Anderson finished second with a time of 34:57, which should secure him a spot on the team. But he won’t rule out running another qualifier to better his chances.

“I wanted to run the first qualifier just to get a time down, but we’ll see what the training schedule allows and if we’re out in the field or not,” he said.

Anderson represented Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division last year, and this will be his fourth appearance at the Army Ten-Miler if he makes the cut.

“It’s such a fun, unique event,” he said. “And FMWR is great about supporting us, getting us lodging and covering the cost to attend the race. I run marathons and other races, but there is nothing like the Army Ten-Miler. It’s a chance to have a reunion and see old friends. You get down to D.C. and realize that somehow everyone you know in the Army is there for a run. It’s a lot of fun.”

First Lt. Gabrielle Dandridge, with 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, crossed the finish line in 48:45 as the sole female competitor at the qualifier.

“That wasn’t too bad,” she said. “I was just seeing what I could do. I might try another qualifier just because I want to see how I improve, but I was happy with today’s time.”

Dandridge, who is also training for a triathlon in August, said this would be her first Army Ten-Miler.

“I like to run,” she said. “When I was younger, I ran a lot of races, but not as much now. I’m excited for a chance to run the Army Ten-Miler.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Francisco Valiente, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade senior enlisted adviser, recorded a time of 37:19. Predicting a 40-minute finish, he said the conditions must have been right for him to shave off a few minutes.

“It must have been the weather,” he said, which was unseasonably cold that morning. “I’m also training for a marathon now, so it might have been that too.”

Valiente first ran the Army Ten-Miler in 2008, and he considers himself an avid runner.

“I’m just a guy who likes to run,” he said. “It’s a way to stay young, stay healthy and stay in shape. It clears my mind every time I go for a run, so I use that opportunity as often as I can.”

The next Army Ten-Miler qualifier will start at 7 a.m. June 15 outside Magrath Sports Complex. It is free and open to all active-duty service members. For more information, call (315) 772-6663.

To learn more about the Army Ten-Miler, visit