As servicemembers, we all run. We can all classify ourselves as runners.
Some of us just take it to a whole other level.
Oct. 20, marked the 29th time the United States Army 10-miler graced our nation’s capitol. This year, over 35,000 competed in Washington D.C.
The seven women from Fort Bragg would stand out among those 35,000 to bring home the Commander’s Cup. A trophy awarded to distinguish the best, active-duty women’s division team.
The team was assembled based on prior race times and experience months in advance of hitting D.C.
“We trained together every morning since June,” said Sgt. Claudia Garcia, 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group. “On Saturdays we’d do our long runs.”
Garcia, like most of the team, wasn’t introduced to the art of running by the military. She’d been baptized since high school.
“We bonded as a team and got along very well,” she said. “We would have BBQs and go shopping together. It built cohesion which became very important for us.”
Not everyone on the team could break away and train with the group leading up to the 10-miler.
“95% of the time I was running every day while pushing my one-year old daughter in her stroller,” said Maj. Emily Potter.
Potter, a public affairs officer for the United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command, wasn’t just training for the 10-miler. She had her sights on the Marine Corps marathon, hosted just a week after D.C.
“I really enjoy running, being outside. If I don’t start my day off with a run it’s all downhill from there,” said Potter, whose preparation proved true after finishing with a cool 57:51.
Good enough for 7th overall in the women’s division.
Potter is no stranger to D.C.’s big event. This year’s was her fourth. What’s more: just a number in the long history of races and events she’s tallied since high school and college.
“I’ve done All Army sports – including the All Army running team – for years,” she said. “I was 100% motivated to bring the commander’s cup to Fort Bragg – where it belongs.”
Potter is taking the role of recruiter by reaching out to fellow team members, including Garcia.
“She’s been very encouraging, trying to get me to try out for the All Army running team,” said Garcia. “Right now I’m waiting to hear back. Fingers crossed.”
Garcia, who came in at 65:03, has a pretty clear message of advice for anyone seeking to break into distance running competitions.
“Never rush yourself. The first five minutes are always the hardest. Keep steady, find your peace,” she said.
Garcia thinks setting realistic, time-oriented personal goals is a healthy tactic.
On the same note, Potter said, “You’ve got to commit to the long haul.”