MINDEN, W.Va. (Oct. 24, 2014) -- U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers from the 84th EOD Battalion took on roads, rapids and mountains during the 53-mile endurance race known as the Wilderness Challenge.
Capt. Alex Madden, Capt. Tommy Artone, 1st Lt. Mike Woodmansee and U.S. Navy Lt. Darray Hartig joined forces to come in second for the Army, in the two-day challenge.
The Fort Riley, Kansas-based 84th EOD Battalion is part of the 71st EOD Group, 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), the U.S. Department of Defense's only formation that combats CBRNE threats across the nation and around the globe.
The Wilderness Challenge included a five-mile run, six-mile kayak, 12-mile mountain bike, 14-mile whitewater raft and 16-mile mountain trek.
The challenge took place in West Virginia's New River Gorge area, one of the best whitewater rafting sites in the United States.
Madden said he first became interested in participating in the challenge when he was deployed.
"When we were deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, we saw commercials for it on AFN, and all the events were things that we loved doing," said Madden, a native of Oswego Lake, Oregon.
To prepare for the race, Madden made his 35-mile round trip to work every day on his bike. The other members of team prepared for the challenge in different ways.
Madden said the team faced its share of challenges during the race, from torrential downpours to broken bikes.
"There were a lot of challenges to overcome," said Madden, the operations officer for 84th EOD Battalion.
"Both of Darray's brakes went out on her rental bike," said Madden. "She had a hard crash and afterwards Mike, Tommy and I took turns running her broken bike the final two miles downhill to the bike finish."
The team also capsized its inflatable kayak on a large rapid but was able to recover quickly and pass four other teams, Madden said.
A long way from Kansas, Madden said taking on the New River Gorge was the highlight of the challenge.
"With three of us coming from Fort Riley, the opportunities to white water raft and bike big hills are fairly rare," said Madden.