NEWS | Sept. 11, 2020

U.S. Army Japan Fields Army Ten-Miler Team Virtually during Pandemic

By Winifred Brown

CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- U.S. Army Japan is holding a virtual qualifier for its Army Ten-Miler team, which will also compete virtually this year due to COVID-19, and still needs two active-duty women Soldiers to complete the team.

The team needs to have six active-duty Soldiers who are men and two who are women to qualify, said Greg Zaboski, a sports specialist for Camp Zama’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

The team has enough men, but because no women tried out for the team in the initial qualifying round that ended Sept. 7, it still needs two women, Zaboski said.

“We want to be a part of the Army Ten-Miler, as we have every year,” Zaboski said. “We’ve always sent a team, so hopefully we can get some more people motivated.”

Active-duty Soldiers who are women who would like to try out for the team can qualify by running 10 miles anywhere they would like, at any time, until noon Sept. 14, Zaboski said. That’s the deadline for women to submit their app results to him.

“Doing it virtually this year, in my opinion, is actually better because one, they get to set their own route,” Zaboski said. “It’s not the route that we chose or the time that we chose. If they’re a night runner or a day runner or even a 2 a.m. runner, by all means, help yourself.”

For the qualifying tryout, runners can also use the fitness or run-tracking app of their choice, Zaboski said.

The 36th Army Ten-Miler Virtual Edition will take place from Oct. 11 through 18, and runners can run anywhere they want, but will have to use a specific app, Zaboski said.

Although organizers usually hold the race in Washington, D.C., this year runners will be using the app to send in their times from all over the world.

One advantage for runners from USARJ is that they won’t have to run the race with jetlag, Zaboski said.

The 10 men who tried out for the team completed the qualifier using running routes on Camp Zama, Sagamihara Family Housing Area, and outside those installations, Zaboski said.

The team roster, even for the men, is not final yet, but Capt. Dustin Thomas, assigned to Medical Activity Japan, Camp Zama; Sgt. Joseph Rudolph, also assigned to MEDDAC-J; and Spc. Max Ramirez, assigned to the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, trained together for the race and completed their qualifying run together on Camp Zama Sept. 3.

Thomas, who had the fastest qualifying time with 1 hour, 6 minutes, and 15 seconds, has run the Army Ten-Miler five times and looks forward to running it again this year, even if it is a virtual race.

“I’m just excited we’re doing something,” Thomas said.

Thomas said he realized in June the team probably wouldn’t be able to travel to Washington, D.C., for the race, and he and other runners were afraid it wouldn’t happen at all.

“So we didn’t start training as much, but once we found out it was virtual and we’re going to be able to have a team from U.S. Army Japan, I think we all got a little bit more motivated and definitely started ramping up the training,” Thomas said.

Ramirez, who had a qualifying time of 1:14:01, said he ran the race for the first time last year and enjoyed going to Washington, D.C., for the event.

Because he hoped to run it again this year, he was excited to learn the race would be virtual, and began training right away, Ramirez said.

Likewise, Rudolph, who had a qualifying time of 1:28:38, said he first ran the race last year and looks forward to hopefully running it again this year, even if it is a little different this time.

“I think [the virtual race is] pretty cool, actually,” Rudolph said. “Of course I’d like to go to D.C., but with the times, [we] adapt and overcome.”