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JBLM runner ‘packs a powerful punch’

17th FB Soldier says being part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program ‘would be a dream come true’

Published: 10:35AM January 17th, 2013
JBLM runner ‘packs a powerful punch’

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Gregory Leak, right, runs alongside teammate Dallas Henry during the recent Army Ten-Miler team trials on JBLM Lewis North.

Gregory Leak ran in the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in New York City Jan. 1 to ring in the New Year.

The first lieutenant with 17th Fires Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was among 4,000 runners racing through Central Park as fireworks went off.

Leak finished sixth overall with a time of 19 minutes, 24 seconds. The race is just one of many the 24-year-old Soldier and runner has run and has yet to run.

Leak grew up in a family of runners and picked up the sport in middle school growing up in Pennsylvania. He went on to run for Dickinson College where he was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps as well as an All-American runner.

While involved in ROTC he learned he could continue to run competitively for the Army with the World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colo.

“Everyone has dreams to run competitively and do a great job,” Leak said. “To go to Fort Carson and run at altitude, that would be a dream come true.”

The WCAP is a program that provides elite Soldier-athletes with support and training to compete in national and international competitions. The job of WCAP athletes is to train in their sport — a job that Leak would love to have.

The Soldier ran for the All-Army cross-country team as well as the All-Army Ten-Miler team last year. He is now putting the final touches on his application to send out to the WCAP.

In the meantime Leak will continue to run daily, logging nearly 100 miles a week and entering a variety of 3k to 10k races.

When Leak first arrived to JBLM in 2011 he didn’t know anyone and ran by himself, struggling through his workouts. When he crossed paths with runner and JBLM Ten-Miler team captain Dallas Henry, he pointed him in the direction of the Tacoma City Running Club.

Henry and Leak both ran together to help lead the JBLM active duty men’s team to a second place finish at the Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C. last October.

“(Leak) is one of those guys who packs a powerful punch,” JBLM Ten-Miler Team Coordinator Kathy Salcedo said. “He can do anything he puts his mind to.”

Five weeks before he ran the Army Ten-Miler in 50:55, Leak finished 20th in the Philadelphia Half Marathon — his first 13.1-mile race. Leak looks to build up his mileage and eventually tackle his first full marathon.

“I’m pretty young and I don’t want to do the marathon too quickly,” Leak said. “I want to build up that base mileage before I do that.”

The biggest struggle of staying dedicated to his sport is the balancing act of work and running. There are times Leak is exhausted by the end of the day but he remains committed to log his miles. He has his commitment to the Army, but aspires to be a part of the WCAP where he could train full-time, much like his brother who is a professional runner.

“It’s so ingrained in me,” Leak said. “I like the camaraderie and the competing.”