Grueling race challenges all branches
by 1st Lt. Erin Dorrance
Tears of sweat, pain and joy ran down the faces of 45 hard-chargers who participated in the Special Operations Enduro Challenge VI Saturday morning. The two-person teams were faced with a five-mile run, seven-mile canoe, 300 push ups and sit ups, a canoe portage, a one-mile swim, a 12-mile off-road bike, a 40-pound ruck-sack run, an obstacle course, a memory test and firing the M-9. Needless to say, these warriors are fit to fight.
The race, sponsored by First Command, Gatorade, 6th Services Squadron and the MacDill Chief's Group, was run in honor of the deployed troops fighting overseas. The race was also in honor of the U.S. Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization which raises money for the children of special operators who have died in the line of duty.
In the early morning hours of darkness, the 5 a.m. start at MacDill's Marina sent the determined participants on their way to endure a four to six-hour race. Most participants had competed in triathlons and marathons before but had no idea what to expect from the surprise obstacles of the Enduro Challenge.
Tech. Sgt. Fitzroy Howe, a 6th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven, has run 10 marathons, running his best in three hours and eight minutes.
"If I was running a marathon, I would've been done by now," said Sergeant Howe, four hours and 20 minutes into the race.
The teams signed up for a number of different reasons.
Team Double Ray, Capt. Shelley Ray, and her husband Roderick, ran the race for the challenge and to compete together, said Captain Ray, 6th Medical Operations Squadron. She said their energy kept them going and the hardest part of the race was the split event, in which one person swims while the other bikes, perhaps because they were apart.
Positive Vectors was a father- daughter team including 1st Lt. Mara Fair, a 38-year-old finance officer at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Jack Fair, 65-year-old retired Air Force F-16 Falcon pilot. They traveled from Eglin just to participate in the race.
The team became interested in the event when they heard the race was in support of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and decided to take on the challenge as a team, said Mr. Fair.
"Mara is my idol of an Ironman," he said referring to his daughter, who had a baby less than four months ago. "We'll be back for the next one."
Team 12 was very unique because the team consisted of one person; Army First Sergeant Charles Waterfield, Joint Communications Support Element. He said he showed up to run the race and his partner never came. Even though Sergeant Waterfield was disqualified before he started because he was not a two-person team, he finished the race despite having to do it alone.
"I decided to run the race by myself because I look forward to a good challenge and I came out here today to cross the finish line," he said.
As the teams grabbed the last drop of energy they had to cross the finish line, Chief Master Sgt. Troy Basham, Enduro Challenge VI coordinator, said the race wouldn't have happened if it were not for the volunteers, staff, sponsors and the participant's great attitudes.
Enduro Challenge results
4:23:15 Goat-n-Mule, Matt Kohler and Drew Moores (1st for male division)