Army Ten Miler 2017:: Run in Review

Scott and I, along with several of our friends, got up bright and early last Sunday morning to join 35,000 other intrepid runners, walkers, wheelchair racers, costumed performers, and athletes working for charity to complete ten scenic miles from the Pentagon to the Capitol and back. It was the 33rd running of the annual Army Ten Miler, my second time running it here in D.C. and Scott’s first.

This is a run you don’t want to miss. Every time I run this race, I’m incredibly inspired by the amazing people who come out to run, walk, roll, or otherwise participate. If you come out here, you will be uplifted and humbled, provide encouragement and be encouraged in equal portions. I can’t recommend it enough.

I’d like to say that’s evident in that I talked Scott into coming out and running his first ten miler – and his longest race to date. Before this, the honor belonged to the four-mile turkey trot we did in Ohio.

So let’s talk about this race!

*Note: The selfies are pictures we took; the rest are from the Army Events account on Flickr.

Race Day Weather

So to start with, when I ran this race last year {and just realized now that I didn’t post a recap!}, it was a beautiful cool autumn day. I ran in leggings and a running jacket, which I only stopped needing at about Mile 7. Leaves were turning and there was a gorgeous breeze coming up the river.

I’d say that’s a lot more indicative of what you should expect for the Army Ten Miler than the weather conditions we got this year!

This year, we were getting the first edge of Hurricane Nate. Now, Hurricane Nate hasn’t been quite the hooligan that his fellow hurricanes have been this year, but he was straight up slimy, humid, and gross. When we ran, temperatures climbed into the low 80s and the humidity had to be a thousand percent. The weather conditions were so nasty that the organizers cancelled the kids’ race and converted this race, after all finishing places were awarded, to a “fun run” in the hopes that people would throttle back and be careful.

So what’s a fun run? Well, in the military, the definition usually falls into the “mandatory fun” category, e.g. not fun at all but you have to go, so make the best of it. But in this case, it just means that the race loses its ability to award qualifying times. You still get a finish time and finish credit, but if we wanted to use this race as a qualifying time to get in a different wave of next year’s Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, we’d be out of luck. Oh, we could still run, but we’d be in the last wave.

It didn’t matter to us, since we are perfectly happy in the “fun runner” category and not trying for an elite time. My guess is that it didn’t matter to the elite runners either, since they were all finishing well under an hour. But there were some people upset that the announcement wasn’t made on the course. I heard they even diverted some of the last runners so that they only completed a 9-mile course instead of the full 10-mile, but fortunately for us, that was way behind us.

The Course

The Army Ten Miler starts and finishes at the Pentagon. The Metro starts running early the day of the race {6:00 am} so you’ll have plenty of time to get to the Pentagon’s South Parking lot, where runners assemble. We really recommend you take the Metro if you’re running, because most of the surrounding roads are closed for the race and if you drive, you have to park miles away and walk in.

Here’s the course:

You start out heading for Memorial Bridge and cross the river into D.C. You’ll loop around by the Lincoln Memorial and then follow city streets until you get to Rock Creek Parkway. Instead of having to head toward Adams-Morgan up the hill from hell we ran during the D.C. Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, you turn left, run under the Kennedy Center, and follow the river toward the Tidal Basin.

From there, you’ll head toward the Capitol and run alongside the National Mall before making a sharp U-turn and heading back toward 14th Street. Get your high-fives ready, because you’ll be running in the opposite direction of runners who have already completed the turn and lots of people on both sides shout encouragement to the other runners. It’s one of my favorite parts.

Then, you’ll jump on I-395 and cross the George Mason Memorial Bridge back toward the Pentagon. The route will take you off I-395 toward Pentagon Row, and you’ll cross back under the bridge and finish out by North Parking, where you’ll find tons of booths and stands set up, and where you’ll get your finisher’s coin.

Naturally, the Army Ten Miler gives out challenge coins instead of medals. And we were really, really happy to get ours. I wish I’d gotten a video of Scott’s happy victory dance when he got his coin. I’m so ridiculously proud of him for getting out there and tackling this race.

The People

You meet the best people in the world out on race courses. You definitely meet some of the best people out running and supporting the Army Ten Miler.

You might watch a double amputee go charging by you on prosthetics. Or you’ll see a little old lady in a tutu go cruising by you easily, and when you congratulate her, she cheerfully announces she’s run the last 20 of the 33 Army Ten Milers. You’ll get passed by Marathon Santa {he’s embraced it, it’s on his t-shirt}. You’ll pass a few people who look like they’re hurting but will still flash you a smile when you cheer them on or offer them a high five. You’ll learn never to judge any runner out there by appearance, because some of the ones who seem really fit will still struggle, and some of the people you’d never expect to be capable runners will go zipping by you.

You’ll watch friends and strangers alike encouraging each other and cheering each other on. You’ll take a water break with a cheerful woman who shares some of her gummy bear snacks to give you that little sugar boost you didn’t know you needed. You’ll run into a woman who grew up in the same neighborhood as the friend whose medical practice shirt you’re wearing works out of and find out how many little places and people you have in common.

You’ll get cheers from friends and family or just local spectators who are standing on the sidelines, offering encouragement. Soldiers manning the water booths will cheerfully dump a pitcher of water over your head if you look like you need it. Their demonstration of fellowship and camaraderie with each other and with the crowd will lift your heart and remind you that this new generation is not just what you see in the news, but full of energetic, bright, and spirited young people who will make this world better.

I joke about running for the t-shirt or the medal, or just using it as a motivator because I’m less likely to avoid a workout if there’s sunk cost involved. But really, I run because of the people. They’re awesome.


Here are some key numbers from the race:

  • 10 planned miles
  • 10.2 miles according to RunKeeper Pro
  • About 35,000 registrants
  • The race sold out in days
  • Runners ran in waves
  • About 55 feet total elevation change
  • The overall male winner finished in 49:23
  • The overall female winner finished in 56:50
  • This year’s average temp was 82 degrees F
  • The humidity was 90%

All in all, it was a wonderful day to get out and run. And while it was hot and sticky, I’ll take that any day over the 18-degree F start we had at the D.C. Rock ‘n’ Roll Half! We are talking about running this one again next year and building our training plan so that we can come in a little bit faster!

If you’re looking for some other good races to try in D.C., here’s our list of recommendations!

How many of you guys have tried the Army Ten Miler? What other races should we try in D.C.?

WASH DC, WELLNESS
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  • Sarah Farzanegan

    Sounds like a great reason to hop on over and visit y’all back east! Keep me posted on the training plan and date for 2018 🙂

    • Yes!! We’d love to have you come with us for 2018! And now we’ve got plenty of room to host 😀 It’s most likely going to be on the first weekend in October again, but I’ll keep you posted on what I hear about sign-up dates and everything!

      Will shoot you an email later today or tomorrow with an answer to yours – I have been HORRIBLE keeping up with my personal email lately 🙁

  • It is a great race! I love it so much and I’ll be back again next year, despite my angst about the crowds and the giant corrals. It’s so inspiring to run, no matter what.

    • You’re right, it’s absolutely inspiring! And I’m not keen on the big corrals either, but it’s a nice, fairly wide course, so it does thin out. We’re looking forward to running again next year but hoping that we get fall temps this time! 😀