By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 1, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 1, 2013) -- Days of rain saturated the ground and Lake Tholocco's waters rose high onto the banks of West Beach, but Soldiers wouldn't be kept from battling it out for one of Fort Rucker's most coveted titles.
More than 30 Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, competed in the Aviation Captain's Career Course Iron Aviator competition July 25, and although many competed in teams and individually, only one came out on top as the Iron Aviator.
Capt. David Kruger earned the Iron Aviator title, finishing the course with a total time of 1:41:40, beating the closest competitor by more than 9 minutes, and the closest team by more than 7 minutes. The fastest team was Team 3, who finished with a time 1:49:12.
"It feels really nice to win," said Kruger, who is no stranger to physically intense competitions. "I've been training for some other races, and that happened to tie in with this one, so the timing was perfect."
The competition is a good opportunity for Soldiers within the Captain's Career Course to bond with friendly competition, as well as challenge themselves with physical fitness and build esprit de corps, said Capt. Jeremy Gibbs, one of the coordinators for the event.
"This is a (AVC3) tradition and it's been going on as long as anybody can remember," he said. "It's something that they can all enjoy and something that their Families can enjoy as well.
"This is almost like a battalion organizational day or a company org day that other units would have," he explained. "It's one of the culminating events that we put on prior to graduation -- one of the last events that they'll do together as a class."
"To me, it's just kind of a culmination of what our team has done together," said Kruger. "It's just the fact that we could all get out here and do these races together and have a good time. I think it's great that we have challenging physical events like this."
The competition consists of four main events: a 4.4-mile ruck march, with each competitor carrying up to 30 pounds of equipment; followed by a 300-meter swim through lake Tholocco; an 8.8-mile bike ride; culminating with a 2-mile run.
Kruger said he's used to physically intense exercise, but one event he wasn't too familiar with that most competitors struggle with was the ruck march.
"That was the hardest part for me," he said. "I never really carry (a ruck sack), and we're a bunch of Aviators, so we're not used to it, but everyone went out there and gave it their all, and we just had a good time with it."
The competition is traditionally held on West Beach during the spring, summer, and fall, which Gibbs said makes for one of the best courses, but because of heavy rain recently, the course had to be somewhat altered.
"When we did our recon of the route (the day before) we noticed a lot of the course was washed out because of the weather we've been having lately," he said. "We had to change the course just a little bit because we didn't want anybody to get injured, so we decided to keep them on the road as much as possible."
Despite the change in the course, competitors found it to be just as challenging, but the challenge wasn't just for those participating in the ironman-style event. The challenge also lay on those preparing for it, added Gibbs.
"(The Iron Aviator competition) is very manpower intensive," he said. "It takes a lot of people to put this on as well as to keep the course safe. We try to have as many people on the course just to provide oversight.
"We use our entire battalion to be able to do this and even have any flight students that are on hold status to come and help out," he continued. "We've also had support from outside agencies like the military police, that provided escorts, and the dining facility, that was kind enough to provide food, ice and drinks for us."