Army Ten Miler {race report}

Army Ten Miler weekend is always one of my favorites.  It’s been a mother/daughter tradition (+ husband, and now sisters) since 2007 when I moved to DC!  At the time my parents were living in Florida, and my mom would come up every year to hang out and run the race.  It’s our thing and that’s why it’s so special to me.

This year we qualified for PRIORITY REGISTRATION, which is a pretty big deal if you ask me.  Priority registration is given to all U.S. service members and runners who have participated in 7 or more ATM races.  And with race capacity increasing every year, it’s more & more important to have this option.  Registration was a breeze; definitely a plus when considering running/registering for a race.

I had to sit out the 2013 race because LJ was just one week old.  However, the 2014 race fell on his FIRST birthday, and I thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate him (and me).  A lot happens in one year!

I didn’t train quite like I wanted to, and ATM was sandwiched between 2 half-marathons, so I decided to use the race as a training run.  Training runs take the pressure off, especially since I’m so competitive.  My sister was running with me, so I knew she’d keep me on track/pace for the race we planned to run.

Race day was a little chilly, and we probably waited a little too long to check our gear.  If I had been racing, I wouldn’t have made this mistake… but again, low pressure race, low pressure expectations.  We did a couple jumping jacks, checked our gear, and made our way to the porta-potties with what we thought was enough time before the race start.  Wrong!  With 35,000 runners (a new increase for the 30th Anniversary), there weren’t nearly enough porta-potties.  And when I say not enough, I mean it was the longest porta-potty line I’ve ever waited in at a race (and I’ve run A LOT of races in my life).  I was in the first corral, but my sister was in the second, so we planned to start with the Green Corral.  Nice try.  It was another 20 minutes (after the green corral started) before we made it to the starting line, weaving in and out of other corrals to make our way to the start.

While a 20 minute penalty doesn’t seem like a huge deal, especially for a training run, the course was already completely congested.  At Mile 1, we were walking up the hill by Arlington National Cemetery (yes, walking) because the course was too crowded.  And quite frankly, it didn’t get any better.  The course and roads are only so wide – an extra 5,000 runners makes a huge difference.

Even though I was frustrated (even for a training run), I kept reminding myself that it was a beautiful day for a run.  And it was.  The weather was perfect.  And on top of that, I am thankful that I’m able to run.  The most inspiring thing about Army Ten Miler is watching the Wounded Warriors run the race.  It can’t be easy – but you never seem them complaining.  Instead, they persevere though the pain.  It’s really quite humbling.

I didn’t have the training run I was hoping for, and honestly it was my least favorite Army Ten Miler, but it was fun to keep the tradition going and run ten miles to celebrate my LJ.  I’ll be back next year, and will make sure I allow enough time to hit the porta-potties and the race start.

{final thoughts}
I’ve never said anything bad about the Army Ten Miler!  In fact, it’s my favorite race I’ve ever run (which is why I keep coming back).  But the 2014 race was my least favorite.  The course was entirely too crowded.  I work in the running industry, so I’m intimately familiar with races/registration.  I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again:

“When you start adding numbers (in this case, runners) in order to make more money, you take away from the runner experience.  Experience is everything!  If you want people to keep coming back, and promoting the race, you have to make sure that runners have a positive experience at your event.  The second that changes, the race loses appeal.” – melody parry jones 

And for the sake of Army Ten Miler, I really hope that doesn’t happen.  Please consider lowering the race registration numbers for 2015.  Additionally, I did not like the new course.  There’s something really fun about running down Independence Ave with runners and spectators as far as the eye can see; the course change, and running through Pentagon City, just didn’t feel right.

I’ll end on a positive note – THANK YOU to all of the volunteers and soldiers that make this race possible!  Your enthusiasm and support does not go unnoticed.  Thank you again!

 

{stats}
Time: 1:26:26
Place: 6468/26307
Division: 351/2415
Gender: 1532/12387

 

Did you run Army Ten Miler?  How did you do?  Share your race report in the comments section!

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Comments

  1. I ran Army this year as well and I must say, I have mixed feelings about it. This race has been on my radar for years, so I may have artificially built it up in my mind, but I didn’t find it to be that enjoyable of an experience. I spent far too much time weaving around people throughout the entire race (I started in wave 6), the back waves couldn’t see any of the starting-line festivities, and there was far too little crowd support. I’m also having issues with the timing – they give us the opportunity to dispute our final times but then I’m told they can’t consider Garmin times in the dispute – well, what other evidence are we to submit? We couldn’t take our phones to snap a photo as we crossed the line.

    I’m glad I did it, but I don’t know that I’ll be back. My full race report is here: https://rundoodlerun.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/race-report-army-ten-miler/

  2. Being forced to walk in a race due to excessive crowding is definitely not fun. I’m sorry this year was your worst experience there! Hopefully the race directors will take what you have to say to heart & will make improvements- maybe in the management of the size of the race if they don’t decrease it. I’m hoping to run it next year and want to make sure I have fun 🙂

  3. Way to get through it! I just ran NWM 1/2 in SF on Sunday and had the same feelings you did. I broke my toe at the end of September and it hasn’t had a fair shot at healing. Then I went to SE Asia and got back 2 days before the race. I hadn’t run since before I broke my toe, so my body just wasn’t ready for it. I was severely jetlagged, so neither was my brain! It was a painful race but I got through it thankfully! They changed NWM course this year (and got rid of the full marathon) and I really enjoyed this new course, though . Same delays with starting all the corrals as usual, but the entertainment was fabulous. For such a huge race (I mean, it’s Nike!) it always seems so incredibly disorganized and the communication and customer service severely lacking. I know for them (at least it seems for this race), it’s all about the $, but a little communication to runners wouldn’t hurt!

  4. I wonder if it was that crowded because you started later in the race and not only because they added more runners. When I ran MCM in 2008 I started in the back and same happened to me. Very frustrating.

  5. Gia Bower says:

    Additional runners were not added to the ATM race in 2014. There were 3 more waves than you’d remember from previous race. The purpose of this race is to enhance the lives of active duty soldiers and their family members through programs and services provided Army-wide through the Morale, Welfar and Recreation department of the Army. It is definitely a “for-profit” Army event, but your experience is very important. You are absolutely correct. Repeat runners have given this race a lifespan of 31 years in 2015. As far as the course goes, the race organizers are at the mercy of the transportation department and other major events happening from year to year on the same day in Washington DC. That’s not an excuse, its an unfortunate fact. I hope you do run it again. Thanks for an excellent and intimate review!

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