33rd Annual Army-Ten Miler

The Army Ten-Miler (ATM) is not only a well known race in the D.C. area as well as in running and military communities, it is one of largest ten-milers in the nation with a cap of 35,000 participants. Race proceeds benefit the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Since moving to D.C. and becoming a runner, I knew that I wanted to do the race and knowing it was popular, I put a reminder in my calendar when the general registration opened on May 24 for the October 8 date. Depending on the year, I’ve heard of the race selling out really quickly. I registered on June 1, and at that point, it was not yet sold out but the number of open spots was winding down to the hundreds.

Updates from ATM were not annoyingly frequent and all info about registration confirmation, packet pick up, and event details were super easy to find. The two-day expo was at the D.C. Armory, and even though there was a long line on Saturday morning, the line went by quickly (if you have CAC or Uniformed Services ID card, there’s a separate entrance). Packet pick up was really straightforward and easy. My only complaints about the expo were that it was hot inside the Armory and I thought the booths could’ve been laid out better to avoid bottleneck/clogging in many areas.

On race day, the high was 87F with a 75F start in 87% humidity. It was steadily raining for at least the first 4 miles. The course begins and ends at the Pentagon, traveling through D.C. passing by the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Watergate Building, Kennedy Center, and several museums with views D.C. and Rosslyn in Virginia from the Potomac River. For reference, the Pentagon is physically located in Virginia on the western edge of the Potomac River, but holds a Washington, D.C. address. It’s in a super central location, with a metro stop and large bus hub just southeast to the building. It was unique to run along the highways adjacent to the Pentagon since I often take them on my way to and from work!

My favorite part of the course was the stretch on Independence Ave. between 14th & 7th around mile 6. This section had the most amount of spectators along the course along both sides of the street since it was entirely closed off for runners. The Paul VI High School band was stationed here and when I was passing through they were playing “Don’t Stop Believing,” which had me feeling pretty good. But after mile 7, I was waning. The last 3 miles for me were rough. Mile 7 to mile 8 was across the Potomac River on the 395/14th Street Bridge going back into VA. Again, a unique opportunity to run across this highway, but it being a high meant no spectators or cheering crowds. I ended up walking a bit in intervals throughout this portion until crossing and seeing more spectators at mile 8. At this point, I wasn’t really sure how far I had to go. MapMyRun had been ahead in mile distance than the race mile markers had been. Even then, I remember seeing only 4 mile markers, including the finish, along the course (the race advertises them every mile). I could see the end in sight marked by Army banners, and I emptied out whatever I had left. I just wanted to finish at this point. As I finished, I learned that the race officially stopped timing at 10:08 AM and created a shortened course (around 9 miles) due the severe heat and humidity. I finished just before this, so I got an official time. Those who completed the shortened course received a “recreational finisher.” Getting water, the finisher coin, and food afterwards was easy.

All the security is obviously for everyone’s safety and is greatly appreciated and I found it really interesting to observe. I don’t know if the amount varies per year since this was my first time running the race, but in the context of just a week after the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival and going to an outdoor mini music festival myself just two nights prior, I thought about these things before and during the race.  Armed personnel lined along the course and school sized buses barricaded streets when they intersected the course. Blackhawk helicopters consistently flew over the area of the course.

If I were to run this race again, I would pray for better weather and train for a better mental game, especially during the last 3 miles. Congrats to all the runners for participating and thank you to all the volunteers and organizers!