At the beginning of the year, Gregory Leak was hesitant to say the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army Ten-Miler team had a chance to win the annual October race.
With major contributors absent from the team this year, there were many big roles to fill. After the three timed trials and once the three teams were formed (active duty men, active duty women and mens masters), Leaks feelings changed.
Right now Im very confident that we have the potential to beat Fort Carson, the JBLM Army Ten-Miler team captain said.
Leak was with the team last year in Washington D.C. when the active duty mens team took second behind Fort Carson, Colo. Leak led the team with a finish time of 50 minutes, 55 seconds. He steps in as captain for the team this year with the departure of Dallas Henry who PCSd to Fort Benning, Ga.
The active duty mens team missed out on young runner Aaron Catlin last year, who deployed soon after the Army Ten-Miler race in 2011. The team is without Catlin again this year as he is in Army Officer Candidate School.
The active duty womens team will compete without its lead runner, Ashley Urick, who is unable to commit because of her residency at Madigan Army Medical Center. Urick led the womens team to its first Commanders Cup victory last year.
Sammy Ngatia led the mens masters team in 2012, but he is also gone this year.
We just lost a lot of people, Leak said.
With the losses have come strong additions as the team prepares for the race Oct. 20.
Preston Myers quickly turned heads on the JBLM running scene. The young Soldier has won a variety of JBLM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation races. He also won one of the timed trials.
Preston runs like the wind, Leak said. He has the talent and he works really hard.
Jake England returns to the team after a year absence. When a large group of the JBLM Army Ten-Miler team ran in the JBLM Half-Marathon Sept. 14, Myers and England finished first and second, respectively.
The womens team received big boost in Chelsea Prahl, a 2012 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. Now stationed at JBLM, she will also compete with the All-Army team, along with Leak. Returning from last years championship team are Erica Chabalko, Christina Rath and Marisa Gosweiler.
The JBLM Ten-Miler team meets every morning at 6:45 a.m. to train with drills, workouts and long runs. Soon Leak will organize an evening timed trial before the team travels to the East Coast Oct. 18.
We have a very strong team this year, said Tara Ricci, JBLM Army Ten-Miler team coordinator. Im really confident that well place.