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Spc. Leonard Korir is first Army soldier to win U.S. cross country title

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

On a snow-covered golf course in Bend, Ore., Spc. Leonard Korir outkicked former Army Reservist Stanley Kebenei to the finish line to win the U.S. cross country title, a first for an Army runner.

Korir, who placed 14th in the 10k at the Rio Olympics, has been on a tear this winter.

Last month he led the U.S. team to victory at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge in England, and followed it up a week later with a win against an elite field of international runners at the Houston Half-Marathon.

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Col. Liam Collins, All-Army coach (top row, third from left), will field an eight-member All-Army running team to compete in the 2017 Army Ten-Miler, Oct. 8, the day before the opening of the AUSA Annual Meeting. (Photo courtesy of Tom Higgins)

An unusually heavy snowfall covered the race course with two feet of snow, but a legion of volunteers using snow blowers and shovels cleared a 2 km loop through the snow in time for the race.

While the course was marked with two-foot snowbanks on each side, warming temperatures and rain provided runners with a wet and sloppy course of ice, slippery grass and mud on race day.

The tough conditions didn’t faze the Army runners as teammate and fellow Olympian Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir joined Korir on the podium with his third-place finish.

With their finishes, both Korir and Kipchirchir qualified for the U.S. national team and will be representing the U.S. at the World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda in March.

Army Sgt. Augustus Maiyo’s tenth place finish contributed to Army’s dominating performance and marked the first time the Army has placed three runners in the top 10 at the national championship.

In additional to competing against the nation’s best runners, the All-Army runners competed against the military’s best since the U.S. National Championship also serves as the Armed Forces Cross Country Championship.

The Army men easily defeated their service rivals to give them their fifth straight win.

Not to be outdone, the Army women also had a strong showing in the Armed Forces Championship.

West Point’s Capt. Kelly Calway won the Armed Forces title in the 10k race, finishing 24th in the nation, with Capt. Meghan Curran finishing only seconds behind.

This was Calway’s third Armed Forces Cross Country title.

If you want a chance to say you raced against an Olympian, then circle Oct. 8 on your calendar, where you can race against Korir, Kipchirchir, Calway and the rest of the Army’s top runners at the Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C., prior to the opening session of the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.