By By Capt Jeffery Harris, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public AffairsDecember 19, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas -- They were spent. All 22 participants of the inaugural Warrior Artillery Fitness Challenge gave everything they had to finish.
The three-event challenge consisted of a 3-mile run, 5-mile ruck march, ending with six obstacle course events.
"The concept was inspired by what we used to do in the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (ABN) in Alaska, the Cavalry Fitness Test," said Capt. Jeffrey Harris, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Field Artillery Regiment's assistant operations officer. "The difficulty, intensity and events of the Challenge were tailored to the unit."
The run tested cardio endurance while being challenged by steep hills. The ruck march tested each Soldier's ability to carry weight over distance combined with speed. Obstacle course events required agility, strength and heart, translated into to combat fitness.
WAFC stretched from one side of Fort Hood to the other, beginning around 9 a.m. on a nearly perfect morning.
Soldiers started out down the long tank trail on Turkey Run Road towards the toughest part of the first event: a long and steep hill in the first half of the run.
"It brings out the inner Warrior inside of you by the time you get to the top of it," said Staff Sgt. John Miller, personnel NCO with 3rd Bn., 393rd FA Rgmt. The hilltop was where the tight group of Soldiers began to fan out. They then streamed up and down a series of hills and two water crossing points before arriving at the end of the first phase.
The second phase of WAFC began as each Soldier arrived at the Ruck Up Point. Maj. Glen Renfree, battalion executive officer, was the first one to finish the run. "It was like a fire drill, he said. "I knew that my only hope was in a speedy transition to stay in front as long as possible."
Everyone had to find their own ruck sack, put on their boots and ruck up. The ruck march had an additional challenge: temperature. It was as if Murphy's Law came out on the only December day to reach 80 degrees and the Warriors were marching dead into the face of the sun. It was taxing to say the least, but they pressed on to the last event: the obstacle course.
Observer-Coach/Trainer Sgt. 1st Class Anriuj Alfred was able to overtake Renfree in the course of the ruck march to arrive at the obstacle course first. Those events included: a wall, a sled drag, monkey bars, cone drill, casualty evacuation and a 400-meter dash. All obstacle course events were done while wearing helmets, combat vests and ballistic eye protection.
Each Warrior did his best to complete the WAFT in the shortest time possible. In the end, Alfred was able to hold on for the win.
"I am extremely proud of the WARRIOR battalion and the amount of efforts that went into our very first Warrior Artillery Fitness Challenge," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tyson Goolsby, battalion command sergeant major. "It was well planned and executed. The officers and NCOs did a phenomenal job both competing and facilitating. I am extremely proud to be a part of this organization and am so looking forward to future Warrior Artillery Fitness Challenges."