ARLINGTON, Va. - More than 1,700 National Guard members took to the streets here and throughout our nation's capital Oct. 9 for the 27th Annual Army Ten-miler.
Hailing from 51 states, territories and the District of Columbia, a total of 1,711 Guard runners, comprised of several teams and individuals, woke up before sunrise to show their might on the popular course. Runners started near the Pentagon and weaved through the scenic areas of Arlington and the District to eventually finish back at the Pentagon.
Many Guard runners have returned year after year - each with his and her own reasons for showing up.
For some it's purely about speed.
Pennsylvania National Guard runners claimed the fasted Guard times for both men and women and also took top honors for team standings.
Pennsylvania Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Emily Shertzer, a member of the 553rd Band of the Mid-Atlantic, ran an impressive time of 57:51, claiming sixth place out of all females and 111th place overall out of a sold-out field of 30,000 runners.
Army Sgt. Mark Jones, of the Pennsylvania National Guard, placed 104th overall with a time of 57:35.
For the 1,709 other Guard runners who weren't quite as fast, their reasons for running varied.
Maryland National Guard Maj. Andrew Collins, deputy inspector general, ran for his third year and said there aren't very many races like this where you can see so many monuments and memorials on a course.
Another Maryland Guard member, Army Capt. Kevin Andreson, a brigade aviation officer, had more than one reason, though he said he did have time on his mind.
"My goal was to finish in under an hour," he said - and he did.
Running his eighth, ninth, or tenth year - he has lost track - Andreson, who also served in the active duty Army for seven years, said his favorite part of the Army Ten-Miler is seeing his peers, and even crossing paths with Soldiers he served with while on active duty.
Army Guard twins, Pfc. Doug Scelfo, an intel analyst, and Pfc. Devin Scelfo, a combat medic, both in the New Jersey National Guard ran for their first time and both said they didn't come with any high expectations, but simply wanted to run the entire distance.
Like many runners who are not local, the Scelfos said they enjoyed the local support and being able to see the monuments and memorials throughout Washington.
From even further away, another first-time Army Ten-miler was Army Staff. Sgt. Carmen Davis, a service support noncommissioned officer in the Iowa Guard.
Davis said she also appreciated the local support of the race volunteers, staff and bystanders alike.
Like most runners at the event, Davis admitted that she too enjoyed seeing the monuments for the first time, but her main goal was simple.
"I came here to have fun."