Cross-country race serves as a warm-up for IMCOM-level run
June 18, 2012
VILSECK, Germany -- Dressed in combat gear and carrying weapons, Soldiers from 2nd Cavalry Regiment and airmen from the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron tested their speed and dexterity in the Combat Cross Country Race here, June 7.
The race was both a team and individual competition. Six teams were mostly divided along platoon or company lines and consisted of five to seven members. Team race times were determined by the combined times of the first five finishers of each team to cross the finish line. The top overall finisher and first three teams received trophies and medallions for their success.
Of the 36 men who competed, 35 finished, with one sidelined by injury.
Capt. Gary Dales, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2CR, finished first with a time of 31:55 and led his team, the "Vipers," to victory with a combined time of 2:48:22.
The Combat Cross Country Race was a preliminary for a similar IMCOM-Europe competition to be held in Hohenfels on Sept. 21. Though the IMCOM race promises to be a more challenging course comprised almost exclusively of hills, the Vilseck competition served as a warm-up for serious local contenders.
"We're trying to get these Soldiers ready to compete in Hohenfels," said Serge Kearse, chief of the Sports and Fitness Operation Branch of USAG Grafenwoehr's Directorate of Family and Morale, elfare and Recreation.
At 6.2 kilometers, the course started at the Rose Barracks Fitness Center and curved the back way over small hills, through mud and across a stream to Big Mike Lake, which marked the turnaround point for the runners to head back to the fitness center.
For members of FMWR who drew up the cross country trail, the goal wasn't to ensnare competitors in grueling obstacles and impossible terrain, but to present a doable, albeit stimulating race.
"We didn't want to get too radical with it, but it's enough to make it a challenge," said Eric Hickman, supervisory sports specialist for Rose Barracks Fitness Center.
But many of the competitors expected and even hoped for a more grueling run.
"Once I hit the turnaround point, I was like, 'This is it?' I knew what I was doing at the point," said Spc. Brian Bach, Hawk Company, 3rd Platoon, 2CR, who finished second overall in the competition and led his team, "Ramrod," to second place as well.
Bach even likened fording the stream to splashing around a swimming hole as a kid.
"It brought back childhood memories," he said with a grin.
Nevertheless, most contenders felt the strain of dashing through six kilometers of muddy trail, while weighed down by gear, weapons and water-soaked ACUs from two stream crossings. They finished panting and fatigued.
Pvt.2 Blake Lange, Hawk Company, 3rd Platoon, 2CR, fellow "Ramrod" teammate of Bach, struggled over the cross country trail. It was the man-against-man competition, said Lange, which propelled him to the end.
Bach echoed his teammate's competitive energy.
"I think a lot of people can agree, when you're doing stuff like this, the motivation is high," he said.
FMWR hosted the race with help from 2CR, which provided road guards and medics.
Overall team results
First place: "Vipers" HHT, 2CR
Capt. Gary Dales
Pfc. Daniel Jackson
Staff Sgt. Daniel Noffke
Pfc. Jonathan Roddy
Staff Sgt. Harold Verdecia
Pfc. Zackary Naegeli
Pfc. Justin Hughes
Second place: "Ramrod,"
3rd Platoon, H Company,
Third place: "The Horsemen,"
2nd Platoon, H Company, 3/2CR
(Note: First place Vipers participants are listed in the order they finished.)