After a top-three showing at the 28th annual Army Ten-Miler, Fort Riley runners are taking their skills a step further by forming an official running team.
The Fort Riley Running Team meets six days a week to train at locations in Junction City, Fort Riley and Manhattan. The team consists of 10 members – a mix of males, females, officers and enlisted Soldiers – who run between eight and 12 miles a day, said Lt. Col. Ted Leblow, fires and effects chief, Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. Leblow is the team’s senior officer and ran for the All-Army Marathon and Cross Country teams in the early 2000s.
Seven 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley Soldiers traveled to Washington Oct. 21 to participate in the Army Ten-Miler with 3,000 other runners. The team that included Leblow and Spc. Mathew Chesang, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., placed third out of 33 teams in the Active-Duty Men division.
Chesang, a former Kansas State University track standout and All-American cross country athlete, placed sixth out of 1,857 runners in the Men’s 30 to 34 division. He clocked a time of 52:14.
Chesang, a 31-year-old native of Eldama Ravine, Kenya, has been running since 2000, after he was inspired by a high school classmate, who, he said, was a talented runner.
Chesang enlisted in the Army in March 2012 because the Army offered diverse career opportunities, he said. He is a helicopter pilot and said his goal is to go back to school.
This was Chesang’s first Army Ten-Miler, he said, adding the race was easier than he expected.
“It was fun competing against other Soldiers,” he said.
Chesang trains with the Fort Riley Running Team and said his motivation was being able to run faster when he trained harder. He said he was interested in joining the team because it enabled him to train with his teammates.
“That way we support each other,” he said.
Leblow’s motivation helps, too, he added.
Spc. Jenna Rowe, a 24-year-old military police officer with the 977th MP Co., 97th MP Bn., got her start in running 10 years ago, but didn’t get serious until last year, when she was deployed to Afghanistan, she said.
Rowe, a multi-sport athlete like many others on the team, said she loves being active, playing games and being outdoors. She has always been athletic and competitive, she said, which is a good combination for trying out a lot of sports.
This was Rowe’s second Army Ten-Miler.
She competed in 2010 with Leblow and had qualified for the competition shortly after arriving at Fort Riley and running her first-ever 10-mile race.
“I was so excited to tell my very first command in the Army that I was going to be running the Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C.,” she said.
That first Army Ten-Miler was hard, Rowe said. She’d only completed a 5k, physical training with her unit and short jogs several days a week. Leblow did an amazing job getting her prepared by planning a training schedule, she said.
She improved her 2010 time by about 15 minutes.
Rowe said the biggest reason she was interested in the Fort Riley Running Team was because she loves being around runners.
“Runners are an interesting group of people,” she said. “We love pushing the limits, talking about the latest running shoes, planning races, collecting T-shirts from races, sampling the newest flavor of GU and just attempting thing others won’t. Everyone has to run in the Army, but there aren’t many of us who want (to) and enjoy running, so it’s nice being with people who have the same passion as I do.”
Chesang said the team was good for the post because it represents Fort Riley and encourages team building.
Leblow said the goals of the team are to produce the best Army Ten-Miler team possible, offer Soldiers who enjoy competitive running a way to maximize their potential and represent the division and post in local events by showcasing the Soldiers’ talents.
The team competes in local and regional races and is looking to participate in the Armed Forces Cross-Country Championship next month in St. Louis. The team picked up a first-place trophy at a recent 5k in Topeka.
Leblow said in all of the local and regional races in which the team has participated, five to six of its runners placed in the top 10 overall.
“We’re showing we have some pretty talented runners in all of the Flint Hills,” Leblow said.
Team members pay their own entry fees to races and wear their Fort Riley running jerseys, Leblow said.
Male Soldiers interested in joining the team should be able to complete their two-mile physical training run in 12 minutes or less, Leblow said. Female Soldiers should be able to complete theirs in less than 14 minutes.
For more information about the team, call 785-240-0306.
By Amanda Kim Stairrett
1st Inf. Div. public affairs
Members of the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley Army Ten-Miler team run by King Field House in the early hours of Oct. 17, as they train for the 28th annual Army Ten-Miler. Many from the team have joined the Fort Riley Running Team to improve their skills and train for the next Army Ten-Miler.
Amanda Kim Stairrett | 1st Inf. Div.