Training for upcoming Ten-Miler underway
Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports EditorThe 2012 Army Ten-Miler will take place Oct. 21 in Washington, D.C., and for Fort Hood’s team, training began months ago.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
The October event will be a chance for the Fort Hood Ten-Miler team to build on a first-place finish in the mixed masters category in 2011.
New to coaching this year’s team is Neil Hersey, an experienced runner with more than 10 Army Ten-Miler appearances under his belt. Hersey arrived at Fort Hood last summer, but didn’t compete on the post’s team due to a previous agreement to run with a different team competing in the race.
Hersey comes to the Fort Hood Ten-Miler team as a handpicked product of the post’s commanding general, Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr.
“At the finish of the race, Gen. Campbell asked me how I did, and I told him my time,” Hersey said, describing last year’s race where he finished with a time of 56 minutes and 54 seconds. “Then he told me, ‘you’re coaching the team next year.’”
“I think what he brings to the men’s team is that he’s probably the fastest runner they have,” said Phyllis King, a returning member of last year’s mixed masters team. “What more can you ask for from someone to bring to the team than speed?”
With Hersey comes a new approach to selecting the team. In place of the time trials, used last year, Hersey, the commander of the 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat), prefers a different method.
“Being a brigade commander has its advantages when it comes to fielding a team,” Hersey said.
He said he’s able put the word out to other brigade commanders that he’s looking to link up with Fort Hood’s fastest runners. Once in contact with a runner, he invites them to come train with the team, at which time he can evaluate the runner’s abilities.
“I think it gives you more flexibility to look at more talent,” Hersey said of the process that takes place over time. ”You can kind of see commitment at the same time. And to me, it builds the team while you’re selecting the team.”
Hersey said he is trying to hold off finalizing the 24 reserved rosters spots until mid to late August, to allow additional time for Soldiers arriving to the post this summer.
“We’re probably 75 percent there,” Hersey said of the roster, “but I’m still look for that 25 percent to be really, really quality runners, mainly on the men’s open. I’d like to get one or two more. I’ve got strong runners, but that category is so tough to win.”
Bill Rediske, another returning member from last year’s squad, has an optimistic outlook of Fort Hood’s 2012 team.
“This year we should be very competitive in the open division,” he said. “And then we have a lot of the masters runners that were here last year returning, so that would be another strong category.
“Last year, I was the fastest guy,” he said during a morning training session July 12. Rediske then quickly pointed to three other male runners who he said were all faster than him.
“And that’s good, because we need about four guys who can run 56 (minutes) to win the open (category),” Rediske said. “That’s generally the standard.”
Hersey continued the team evaluation by identifying the women as considerably stronger this year.
“I think we’re putting more use to our mileage this year,” King said of the female runners. “We’re not doing a lot of junk miles – every training has a purpose – and we’re doing a lot of pace-motivated training.”
During a workout Tuesday morning on the Harker Heights High School track, King lauded fellow female runners Kari Anglin, new to this year’s team, and Ellie Morales, who’s a returning member that King described as being in much better shape compared to last year.
Anglin brings the experience of being an ultra runner – someone who runs in the 50-mile range, well past the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
“She comes to us with a lot of base and a lot of speed, and we’re building on her,” King said. “That’s why I think we just have a stronger team, because the runners came to the team (this year) with a bigger base of mileage underneath their feet.”
As the Ten-Miler approaches, Hersey will be faced with the decision of how to divvy up the roster to maximize the team’s results.
“Bill and I have been talking about that, and it depends on the overall roster that we have so that we have the best chance to win as many categories,” he said, “or do as well in as many categories as we can, as opposed to being marginal in four categories. I’d rather do really well in three, if I can do that.”
The team currently meets twice a week – Tuesday and Thursday mornings – complimented by races on some weekends, which serve as checkpoints to see how their times are progressing.
“A lot people race on the weekends, doing 10Ks and 5Ks in the area just to stay sharp, and then a lot of us will get together to do a longer run,” Hersey said. “Right now, I don’t want to peak too soon with the number of intense workouts, so the track and the hills are a good balance with a recovery day in between.
“I’ll probably formalize it a little more and get permission from the unit commanders,” Hersey said of the team’s training in the near future, “because I need to start getting the team out here on a more regular basis.”