CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - Warrior Country Soldiers strapped on a heavy load of 35 pounds and simply walked away from all competition during the annual 8-mile Rucksack Challenge Nov. 20 at Casey Garrison.

The 52 participants walked with determination through the Casey and Camp Hovey streets again and again until finishing 8 miles later at the Carey Physical Fitness Center.

The competition, held by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, was organized in three categories: women's, men's and group division. Following the competition, awards were presented by Phillip Whittington, Co. B, 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, to the first through third place winners in each division.

The story of the day was 33-year-old Jeffrey Hayden from Salem, Ore., who left his competitors far behind him.

The HHC, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment Soldier, competed in the challenge last year and fell short of the gold with a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 52 seconds, which was good enough for the silver medal. This year he finished first in 59:50 shaving more than four minutes off his time. The record of 58:12 set by Michael Woodenberg in 2006.

"I felt a lot better running this year," Hayden said. "Last year I was coming off a broken ankle, now that I've had time to recover I knew I would do better in this competition."

Hayden said he runs each day after work and the key to his success this year was maintaining a steady pace from beginning to end.

Joseph Hatcher, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, finished in second place at 1:05:37 - nearly six minutes off the past. Hatcher said he knew Hayden would be competitive, but that he would have done well if he finished with him in sight.

"I already knew that Hayden would be the guy to pace off from the start," Hatcher said. "As the race went on Hayden kind of drifted away. He was just better and now I just have a goal to work toward, which is achieving first place."

Michael Vasquez, HHC, 2-9th Inf., finished in third place. Catherine Hamilton of HHC, 2nd Infantry Division, claimed first place in the women's division in 2:22:45.

A team from Co. D, 1-72nd Armor consisting of Patrick Butler, Joshua Coghill, Robert Hammer, Kristopher Horn and Brian O'Boyle, took first place in the group division finishing in 1:20:48 - nearly 13 minutes off the Warrior Country record of 1:07:51 set in 2007 by a team from the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment.

Second place in the group competition went to members of HHC, 1-72nd in 1:25:47.
The participants were especially appreciative of FMWR.

"I just want to thank FMWR," Hayden said. "The people at Casey do such a great job, not only providing us with these events, but ensuring our safety, as well. I wish that in the future even more Soldiers would come out and enjoy the many fun benefits that the FMWR has to offer."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16