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Enduro Challenge seeking athletes with heart

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

Run, bike, canoe, shoot and test your mettle.

With more Airmen in better shape than ever thanks to the Fit to Fight initiative, the organizer of a trying endurance race set for Aug. 21 is hopeful to field 25 teams who want to put their hard work and warrior spirits to the test.

Four years ago on an April morning at MacDill, competitors ran, biked, swam and paddled their way to the finish line of what became legendary among those who had or thought they had the "right stuff" to take on the MacDill Enduro Challenge.

Chief Master Sgt. Troy Basham, the organizer of the event, was a competitor. His team finished 18th of 26 and he recalls being grateful to finish.

"It's more about heart and determination than being in shape," said Chief Basham. "I was not in top shape then but it takes a lot more than being in shape to get through it."

But there is little doubt physical conditioning is a critical part of a successful strategy and at perhaps no point in base history has the Air Force population been as fit, due to the new emphasis on physical training, said Chief Basham.

"There's always been some who ran and did pushups and other exercises but now everyone is doing that," said Chief Basham. "This (the Enduro Challenge) seeks out the true fitness warriors to rise above the normal and test themselves."

The course details have not been finalized, but the race will include a 15-mile bike leg, a swim leg of one mile, a two-mile run and a two-mile pack-laden run. There also will be a canoe race, a memory recall exercise, M-9 firing and an obstacle course, the features of which will be a surprise.

In the 2000 event, the winning time was just under three hours, recalls Chief Basham. One team, named the Centurion Warriors, was made up of a Special Operations Command general and his wife, the team name was inspired by their combined ages, which together came to more than 100 years. They completed the event in good form. Army Maj. Carlos Santiago will be taking the challenge and says he's looking forward to competing.

"I ran something like it once when I was a young guy," said Major Santiago. "I think it will be a good test for me now."

Due to the heat in August, the race will kick off at 5 a.m., which will put the last finishers across the line by 10 a.m. or so, said Chief Basham.

At this point five teams have signed on, but word has not yet reached the base population.

The 6th Security Forces Squadron plans to circulate information this week, which is expected to appeal to the fitness-conscious members of the force, many of whom put a lot of emphasis on physical conditioning, particularly among the marine officers and Ravens.

There will be embroidered golf shirts for all competitors and plaques for first through third places in categories of male, Co-ed and divisions.

The event, being dubbed the "toughest fun you'll ever have," will be limited to 25 teams and teams must have a name. For more information, contact Chief Master Sgt. Troy Basham at 833-3722.




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