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Two third-place finishes for Fort Bliss at Army Ten Miler

Andrés Rodríguez
The Army Ten Miler runners make their way to the finish line Sunday morning. Nearly 35,000 runners were registered to run the annual race.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Fort Bliss men’s and women’s teams finished third Oct. 20 at the Army Ten Miler.
Spc. Japheth Ng’Ojoy, 25, clocked the men’s team fastest time at 52:15 and 1st Lt. Jasmin Branch, 24, finished first for the women’s team at 1:04:25.
About 35,000 people registered to run the 29th annual race on the streets of Arlington, Va., and D.C., skirting several monuments and memorials. An alternate, Arlington-only route, was planned due to the government shutdown, but the original course was reinstated after Congress voted to reopen the government.
Maj. Joe Buccino, 39, the Fort Bliss men’s team captain, said he’s proud of the team’s performance.
“We had a very strong team this year, and it’s very tough to compete with the Fort Carson team because they train at a much higher altitude,” Buccino, the 1st Armored Division deputy public affairs officer, said. “But we came down here and placed third, which is much better than we did last year. We’re all proud of the team.”
Last year, the men’s team placed sixth and the women’s team placed third. This year, the men’s team placed behind first-place Mountain Post in Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, Colo., and second-place Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma,Wash. The women’s team finished behind first-place Fort Bragg in Cumberland, N.C.,  and second-place Mountain Post.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeff Coverdale, 29, of Oklahoma City, Okla., said he didn’t know what to expect from the race because he injured his leg earlier in the year. He finished in 57:54, one of the team’s top-four times. Coverdale said he appreciated the opportunity to train with the team for the past five months and to run with the Wounded Warriors.
“Seeing amputees, guys with disabilities, those kinds of guys being able to finish, kind of puts your own race in perspective,” Coverdale, an intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance liaison, said. “All the different types of people from all different walks of life coming together to put forth their maximum effort.”
The runners included active duty, Reserve, Guard, retired military, veterans and military family dependents from all 50 states, D.C. and other countries, including Brazil and Germany. First place overall runners were Solonei Silva, 31, of Brazil, at 48:04 in the men’s division, and Kerri Gallagher, 24, a Rosslyn, Va., resident, at 54:56 in the women’s division.
A high school and college track and cross country runner, 2nd Lt. Shalela Dowdy,23, said she was motivated to keep running as she saw the wounded warriors beside her. More than 75 wounded warriors and wheelchair athletes were scheduled to compete in the race. Dowdy finished the race with a time of 1:10:30.
“It’s very inspiring to see them still going on, and I’m wanting to quit and I have two legs. It was very inspiring to be able to have the opportunity to motivate them to finish,” Dowdy, of Mobile, Ala., said. “It’s not the average race, and I’ve ran a lot of races in my lifetime so I really enjoyed running this race.”
Pfc. Antonio Varela, 19, of Pecos, N.M., ran the Ten Miler for the first time. He was a high school cross country runner before moving to Fort Bliss in March. He brushed two minutes from his record, finishing the race in 56:26.
“I feel like it was great. It couldn’t have gone any better, I think,” Varela, a member of the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, said. “I ran a great time, and it was an awesome experience.”
The Army has published a list of unofficial results and will update it in a few days.
Andrés Rodríguez is a UTEP senior double major in Spanish and English and American literature. He is currently participating in the Scripps Howard Foundation Semester in Washington program. He may be reached at [email protected].

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Two third-place finishes for Fort Bliss at Army Ten Miler