Members of the Fort Drum Army Ten-Miler Team gather outside Magrath Sports Complex on Oct. 14 to run the virtual edition of the Army Ten-Miler race. Right: Sgt. Brandon Jackson finished the course in 58:57, with Capt. Japheth Ngojoy close behind at 59:01. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Fort Drum Soldiers run virtual Army Ten-Miler
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Oct. 14, 2020) – A 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier from 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, recorded the fastest time during Fort Drum’s virtual Army Ten-Miler race on Oct. 14.
Sgt. Brandon Jackson finished the course in 58:57, with Capt. Japheth Ngojoy close behind at 59:01, Capt. John Evans at 59:32 and Sgt. Brendan McCauley at 59:46.
This was Jackson’s first time representing Fort Drum since arriving here from Fort Bliss, Texas, and he said that he was pleased with the race results.
“I didn’t expect to do that well – I don’t think any of us did,” he said. “We just got back from the field for about 16 days, and after working like crazy and with the weather changing, I just expected to run a little slower today.”
Jackson said that the other members of the team kept him motivated on the course, and they were all determined to finish strong.
“Running with these guys – they pushed me, for sure,” he said.
This was Jackson’s fifth Army Ten-Miler race, and like thousands of others, it was his first time running it virtually.
“I’m passionate about running,” he said. “It’s a different atmosphere than running it in Washington, D.C., but I just love running, and the team kept me motivated to keep running.”
Before the Mountain Peak training exercise, Jackson said that he prepared for the race by logging as many miles as possible.
“I run about 10 miles a day – mostly in the mornings, but if not, I’ll run at night,” he said. “I do track workouts, hills; I run on post, off post – whatever it takes.”
Capt. Kelly MacDonald, with Fort Drum MEDDAC Behavioral Health Clinic, led the women’s team with a 1:11:24 finish.
“I was pretty happy with my run today, considering the pandemic and how that has made training and racing different,” she said. “This was fun. I think we were all spread out far enough that it was truly a socially distanced event. But there’s something special about having another runner off in the distance you’re trying to chase that makes you run a little bit faster.”
MacDonald said that she has kept active by participating in non-racing events, such as socially distant trail runs.
“For the most part, I’ve been running in the mountains,” she said. “I’ve been doing the Adirondack high peaks and running fastest-known times, which is an alternative to racing. But I was excited for today because it has been rare this year for opportunities to race – especially a road race.”
MacDonald has participated in several Army Ten-Miler races, which annually brings thousands of runners to Washington, D.C.
“The Army Ten-Miler is always a fun tradition, and it’s fun to represent a team there,” she said. “Even if we couldn’t have the normal race in D.C., it’s still a good opportunity to challenge myself. Honestly, I kind of liked not being in D.C., because we’re in peak fall foliage season here. I was able to run a cool route in the Adirondacks last weekend.”
Following MacDonald were Pfc. Sarah Slayton (1:23:00), assigned to 41st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd BCT, and 1st Sgt. Alexis Sprakties (1:23:07), with the 10th Mountain Division Band.
First Sgt. Melvin Romero, E Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, said that he ran the Army Ten-Miler only once before, while he stationed in Germany.
“I wanted to come out and compete,” he said. “It’s about doing something positive, going out and challenging myself. I’m an older guy, so I wanted to show I could still go out and compete.”
In addition to having their race results submitted into the official Army Ten-Miler database, the Fort Drum Army Ten-Miler runners are also competing in a friendly rivalry against a few other installation teams.
Jonathan Burnard, Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sports director, said that Fort Drum is vying for team trophy against runners from Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
“We all know it’s a little difficult to be competitive when you’re running virtually,” he said. “So this was arranged as an added incentive for teams to compete for the traveling trophy.”
Burnard said that COVID-19 has created so many changes in people’s lives that it felt right to have Soldiers continue the tradition of representing Fort Drum in the Army Ten-Miler.
“It has certainly been a strange and unpredictable year for all of us,” he said. “We’ve all had to adjust and adapt, and I think it was pretty cool that we were able to set this up for the team. With everything going on, I think it’s awesome that we have these Soldiers representing Fort Drum.”