To many, Fort Bragg’s Army Birthday Ten-Miler is a race that promotes fitness, Army pride and camaraderie, but to the members of the Fort Bragg 10-Miler team, it’s an audition.

“Everyone at the Bragg Ten-Miler is actually trying out for the team. They just don’t know it,” said Richard Connaroe, Headquarters Support Company, XVIII Airborne Corps.

Each member of Fort Bragg’s team was selected and given the opportunity to try out based on their performance in the installations version of the race. Once selected, the team is slimmed down to its top eight performers with the best times, skills and running ability. The member’s work on honing the individual skills they have as well as how to use them to advance the goals of the team.

“The way we are able to train here really helps,” said Connaroe. “I’m in the best running shape I have ever been in here. I’m running times now even better than when I was in high school.”

Fort Bragg’s team is gearing up to compete in the Oct. 20 Army Ten-Miler race in Washington, D.C. In preparation for the race, the team meets five days a week at 6 a.m. to practice, running eight to 10 miles a day. The members push one another to work on improving strengths and weaknesses.

“One of the important things to remember is that when you get into a set pace it’s sometimes difficult to change it,” said Connaroe. “You want to be careful not to start out too slow because you might get set in that pace and if you are too fast you might not do as well as you expected. It’s really important to pick that right pace.”

To do well in this race, Fort Bragg members aren’t necessarily concerned with singular performances. While the members want to push themselves and get the best running time they can, they also want the rest of the members to do well. The top four finishing times for each team are averaged together giving the team a score that is compared against the other teams running. The team with the best score wins the team competition.

“The Army Ten-Miler is a great event because you get to compete against other installations across the Army for bragging rights at the Commanders cup” said Wayne Blas, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

In 2011, Fort Bragg won the Commanders Cup. This year’s team is confident that these are the members to win it all and bring the cup back to Fort Bragg.

“I think we have a very good chance to win this year,” said Connaroe. “We have eight guys who are running (the ten-miler) in under an hour. We are all probably going to finish in less than 58 minutes or less. That’s crazy to have such good runners all in one place.”