Columbia County will be represented when 20,000 runners take to the streets of the nation's capital during America's largest 10-mile race on Oct. 24.
Sgt. 1st class. Mark Nash (left) and Capt. Glenn Mosher run along the Augusta Canal towpath early in the morning July 10 while training for the U.S. Army's 10-Miler competition.
Photo by Barry Paschal
Three active duty soldiers who live in Columbia County will be among the teams from Fort Gordon's 442nd Signal Battalion competing in the annual Army Ten-Miler in Washington D.C.
Staff Sgt. Gracie Saldana, Capt. Jamie Evans and Sgt. First Class Tina Pledger are among the three dozen soldiers from the unit who have been training since April for the event, said Sgt. First Class Mark Nash, the team's coach.
The battalion will probably have four teams of eight members each, although the rosters for each team have not yet been determined, Nash said.
Training for the event has been fun as well as motivating and has strengthened a feeling of team spirit while helping the soldiers stay physically fit.
"There is a great sense of camaraderie," Nash said. "We want to represent Fort Gordon Signal Corp the best we can."
The group of men and women puts in five, early-morning runs a week and is gradually increasing the distance. Eventually, runners will go 16 miles a day.
"That way, the 10 miles will seem easier for us," Nash said.
The Signal Battalion competed last year in the event, with participants placing in the top 50 percent of about 700 teams.
This year, runners hope to do even better, and have tailored their workouts to include cross-training exercises such as sprints, lifting leg weights in the gym and strength training with rifles. Nash maintains a record of best times, and runners have seen a steady improvement.
Evans, for example, has taken almost two minutes off her 2-mile time in just a few weeks.
After the race, "I plan to continue staying in shape," she said.
After-hours, when the runners are not competing in local races to sharpen their training, they are raising money to help defray costs since they must fund the entire trip themselves.
The group has raised some of the needed $3,000 through donut sales, car washes and tips from bagging purchases at the military base.
This year, the 20th Army Ten-Miler will begin and end near the Pentagon, winding through the District of Columbia past memorials, the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building and the Smithsonian museums.
For more information on the Signal Battalion teams, contact Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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