By U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at West PointMay 13, 2016
WEST POINT, NY (May 13, 2016) - Three teams of cadet candidates from the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School set out on a 200-mile adventure race, the American Odyssey Relay, from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Washington D.C., April 29.
Each team was comprised of 12 members, with each member running three portions of the race, for a total of approximately 16 miles per runner.
One team not only took home the Commander's Cup for the fastest team in the military, it also placed second out of 92 teams. However, the most significant award was better than any trophy.
In the words of Cadet Candidate Sean McClair, "The continuous running, through all hours of the day and night, without sleep, tested my physical capabilities. I had to fight for the sake of the team, pushing through fatigue and screaming thighs, knowing that every second mattered."
Sandra Jang adds, "After three years of participating in the AOR, I have learned about the importance of supporting your team members when they are under a great amount of stress. Each runner is stressed, and a good dose of cheering will help that runner get 'fired up' to complete the race."
Fatigue was an understatement for the USMAPS Eagles 1, a team led by Cadet Candidates Mike Worshim and Jon Schmissrauter. At a blistering 7:25 min/mi pace, they placed first among all military teams and second overall, beating 92 other teams. USMAPS other teams placed 15th and 37th.
As a developmental capstone to their year at USMAPS, a total of 31 cadet candidates and six faculty and supporters accepted the American Odyssey Relay challenge. Capt. Elise Fitch commented that "the relay is an awesome culminating event for the Cadet Candidate Battalion.
"The students have trained hard to adapt a lifestyle of fitness throughout the academic year in preparation for their acceptance to the United States Military Academy," Fitch added.
Not only did the trip section compete in this amazing event, but it also explored the Gettysburg Visitor Center Museum and Cyclorama, learning about what some may call our nation's most pivotal battle. The competition charted a course through four states and two National Battlefields, ending in the nation's capital. Highlights included beginning the race close to where President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, running at night through the Antietam Battlefield and completing the race near the National Mall.
The relay also provided cadet candidates the opportunity to realize what they can accomplish. "I learned a lot about pushing myself through adversity," Schmissrauter said. "I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates."
Cadet Candidate Felix Thibodeau added, "There's a certain kind of camaraderie you build when you're already smoked and you and your buddy have a 5-mile run at 0200. All in all, the AOR left me with some crazy memories, a cool glass for running Leg 6 and a smoker of a workout. I definitely plan to do it next year. I'm Fired Up!"
Josh Salisbury, officer-in-charge of all the cadet candidate teams, said, "For the past five years, I have watched a new group of cadet candidates destroy the American Odyssey Relay!
"The 200-mile course tested the grit of our runners, but the challenges of the course were no match for their perseverance," he added.
"Their desire, faith and effort carried them the whole way. I am extremely proud of our runners. They not only worked together to successfully navigate a 200-mile race, but they also banded together and raised over $5,000 for Team RWB, an organization that rallies around those who have served," Salisbury concluded.
Based on the great success of this participation, USMAPS looks forward to further character-building challenges for future classes, challenges which will undoubtedly include this memorable race.