The men’s division winner of this year’s 16th Annual Fort Bragg Army Birthday 10-Miler averaged nearly a six-minute mile, and led the pack of more than 2,000 runners, Friday, from a route that began on Longstreet Road and ended in Hedrick Stadium.

“It’s the first competitive run I’ve done in five years,” said Kemboi who previously sustained a knee injury and is a three-year Army veteran.

The native Kenyan said he has enjoyed his years of military service.

“I love the opportunities it provides. We get to compete and we get to serve our country,” he said.

Others may not have won the race, but they did not lose out on the chance to build camaraderie and challenge their physical competence.

2nd Lt. Shari Smith has previously run half-marathons, but Friday’s event was her first 10-miler, she said.

“I just like running and it seemed like a fun time to do it — a wonderful Airborne day at Fort Bragg,” said Smith who is assigned to the Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.

For Jack Thibeault, an Army veteran who served during the Vietnam campaign, taking part in the run provided an opportunity to, not only support his wife, Sgt. Shannon Thibeault of the 257th Dental Company, but also an opportunity to support today’s servicemembers.

“We’ve got some strong Soldiers. I’m very appreciative of what they’re doing,” Jack said.

Yet another Vietnam veteran showed up in support of a runner. Ken Ford, who separated from the Marine Corps as a lance corporal, traveled from his home in Lancaster, Pa., along with his wife, Jeri. The Ford’s were in Fayetteville to attend their granddaughter’s high school graduation, and said they decided to support their daughter, Jennifer Martin (an officer at Womack Army Medical Center) in her effort to complete the 10-mile run.

According to Ford, Martin is an avid runner. He said, “She’s been running for years. She’s 42 and averages an eight-minute mile.”

The annual 10-miler is an important event, in part, because it qualifies runners for participation in the Army Ten-Miler each year in Washington.

“Our better runners, if available, will be able to represent Fort Bragg at the Ten-Miler,” said Karen White, chief, sports, fitness and aquatics, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

This year’s race distinguished teams as masters, sergeant major and as women’s and men’s division runners, White said.

“It represents the best of Fort Bragg,” White said.

For more information about future FMWR events, visit www.fortbraggmwr.com.