Racers covered in mud faced grueling obstacles to claim victory
October 5, 2012
BAMBERG, Germany (Oct. 5, 2012) -- Claiming victory was no easy feat on Sept. 28 at the Local Training Area for participants in the U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg's first garrison-level Spartan's Race.
Facing 10 grueling obstacles that tested racers' speed, endurance and physical strength proved challenging for all 30 teams that participated. Pushing a Humvee, scaling six-foot walls, crawling through mud and facing the "Mountain of Despair," were only a few of the challenges faced leaving one team to prevail in less than 37 minutes across five kilometers of rugged terrain to claim victory.
Victory was claimed by a team of Soldiers from the 4th Battalion 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.
"We thought it would be a good break from our regular workout routine," said 2nd Lt. Adam Porritt, a member of the winning 4th Bn. 319th AFAR team. "We were all pretty excited about taking on the course and competing against the other teams."
"There were several key factors to our team's success," Porritt said. "First of all, we're Airborne, it's what we do. Secondly, we were pretty motivated to go out and represent our unit, especially when Pfc. (Azizul) Ahmed brought out the war paint. Lastly, we just wanted to challenge ourselves and have a good time."
Conquering second and third place were teams of Soldiers from 541st Engineer Company and Headquarters and Headquarters Company 54th Battalion respectively.
Not all teams were U.S. Soldiers. Spouses and civilian employees from the community also participated, along with soldiers from the German Armed Forces. There was a total of 14 German soldiers from the 467 Logistic Battalion and an additional team of four soldiers from the German Reserve unit in Oberfranken West that competed in the race.
Alex Ulrich, of 4th Company 467 Logistic Battalion of the German Armed Forces, participated on a mixed team with another German soldier and two U.S. Soldiers.
"It was not planned to make a mixed team," Ulrich said. "We joined up this morning and I was proud to run with them."
Ulrich said he enjoyed the chance to race alongside the American Soldiers, some of whom he has trained beside for the past five years.
"It was nice that everyone completed the race and I am glad to be here," Ulrich said. "The hill and the mud holes were the most challenging. In the German army we have military fitness but no mud holes."
Porritt not only enjoyed the race but the opportunity it provided to interact with other units and the German Armed Forces.
"The race was a blast, and it was awesome getting to interact with the different teams from other units and our German counterparts that showed up as well," Porritt said.
For Porritt and his team, a favorite obstacle along the race was the tunnel under the building that they had to low crawl through.
"It was pitch black other than the light on the other end and of course, had plenty of mud and water, like something out of a Left 4 Dead video game or 'The Shawshank Redemption,'" Porritt said.
The aptly named Mountain of Despair proved to be the most dreaded and challenging obstacle competitors faced. Teammates had to run up and down both sides of a large hill while carrying either a five-gallon water jug or two ammo cans.
"I love the course. The hardest obstacle was the mountain hill," said Staff Sgt. Kamba Cilumba, 391st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
Cilumba participated in the race to support his unit and the community. He shared the secret to his team's success to complete the course: "Teamwork and being each other's motivator."
One team embodied the word teamwork and earned themselves the Team Spirit award. The team members were three spouses and one Soldier.
"We worked together to complete the obstacles," said Leah Luher, a member of the Team Spirit award winners. "Actually, we had to work together because we couldn't do a couple of them on our own. For instance, I couldn't scale the six foot concrete wall by myself like most of the guys could so my teammate helped. Sgt. (John) White let us girls stand on his back to help reach the top of the wall."
Luher is used to being physically active, running half marathons regularly prior to getting pregnant with her second child, but the Spartan's Race proved to be a different challenge for her.
"The course was much more difficult than I thought," Luher said. "It was tough and really muddy. It tested every muscle group I had and challenged me to do things that I never thought I could do."
The Spartan's Race was organized by 391st CSSB in partnership with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Plans are already in the works to have another race in the spring.