Story and photos by Matt Decker
The 554th Engineer Battalion won the 2018 Commander’s Cup 10k Road Race Friday, winning the event for a fourth consecutive year.
“We ended up with a great team,” said Cornelio Castanon, who not only put together this year’s 554th Engr. Bn. running squad, but also was the first runner to cross the finish line, completing the race in 35 minutes, 33 seconds.
Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Orvis, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major, presented the 2018 trophy to Castanon and his 554th Engr. Bn. teammates, Christopher Jensen, Andrew Byers, John Kater and Jeff O’Laughlin.
Held on the Mickey Zaun Troop Trail, the race included seven teams, with each team combining its top four fastest times. Runners ran an out-and-back route along the trail.
“It’s 3.1 miles, you go around the cone and come back,” Danny Howell, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sports specialist, told runners just before the race got underway at 6 a.m. Friday.
The 554th Engr. Bn. runners had a combined time of 2:37:57, more than three minutes faster than last year’s winning time of 2:40:46.
The 31st Engineer Battalion finished second with a combined time of 2:53:10, while the 84th Chemical Battalion finished in third with a time of 3:02.32.
Rounding out the race were the 14th Military Police Brigade (3:02:38) in fourth place, the 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment (3:04:33) in fifth place; the Medical Department Activity (3:10:50) in sixth place and the 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment (3:12:06) in seventh place.
Compared to several previous Commander’s Cup 10k races, conditions were relatively mild for this year’s race, with pre-dawn temperatures in the low to mid 60s. However, runners faced a strong headwind on the first half of the race, with gusts reaching 30 miles per hour.
“We didn’t know what to expect, because the wind the whole way up was in our way,” Castanon said. “So, I told the team that our times might be out the window, and just to worry about placing. We took advantage of (the wind) on our way back.”
Participation was up, with 35 runners this year compared to 20 runners taking part last year.
The event was the eighth of 18 events in the 2018 Commander’s Cup Series.