Hohenfels Combat cross country
Sgt. Ryan Downey (right) and Staff Sgt. Kirk Miller of the 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion out of Schweinfurt step it up for the final push to the finish line during the U.S. Forces Europe Combat Cross Country Championship, recently.

HOHENFELS, Germany -- Soldiers from across Germany struggled through five kilometers of tough terrain as Hohenfels hosted the annual U.S. Forces Europe Combat Cross Country Championship, recently.

Teams of between five and seven Soldiers each tramped through the course in full battle gear with each team's top five finishing times being added together with the lowest score as the winner.

"We have softball, basketball and flag football, but this is different. They're in uniform, they're running rough terrain; this is one of the few "old school" Soldier events that we have that's still going on today," said Chris Cornelison, FMWR Sports and Fitness chief.

First Lt. Wesly McCullough said he brought the First Battalion, Fourth Infantry mortar platoon out to build camaraderie and team cohesion. It worked. Spc. Irvin Landa carried the platoon's guidon throughout the course, and though the team got separated during the run, they all waited to cross the finish line together.

All the participants said they enjoyed the course, but it was by no means easy.

"It was treacherous," said Staff Sgt. Kirk Miller of the 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion out of Schweinfurt. "I'm a runner not a mountain climber."

"This was my first time out here in Hohenfels, and I didn't really know what to expect," said 2nd Lt. Christian Genao, 72nd ESB. "I had heard it was hilly, but not this hilly! It was tough, but it was great."

His team mate Sgt. Ryan Downey agreed. "That was a walk-up hill," he declared. "Just walking up it, my thighs were burning."

The 72nd ESB took first place in the competition with four of their members taking the top four slots.

"The last quarter mile, we all stayed together and pushed each other," said Miller.

Sgt. Joseph Norton, 72nd ESB, finished with the fastest individual time of 41:23. He said he loved the tough terrain and wished there were more runs like this to participate in. He had a simple explanation to his victory.

"NCO's lead the way," he said, adding that his team may have had an edge as it was a "combat" cross country run, and the 72nd's motto is "Always fit to fight."

Page last updated Mon October 15th, 2012 at 09:30