FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Participation continues to rise for Fort Rucker's Tactical Throwdown challenges and, with the announcement of the third quarter challenge, Soldiers can begin training to tackle the next task.

According to Zea Urbiztondo, fitness program specialist and challenge organizer, 27 Soldiers competed in the Tactical Throwdown second quarter challenge and 19 of those Soldiers submitted their scores for official consideration, with two Soldiers tying for first place in the men's division.

Staff Sgt. Sam Seals and Spc. Matthew Vecchione, both of C Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment, tied for first place in the kettlebell and burpee challenge men's division with a completion time of 5 minutes, 22 seconds.

Spc. Carrie Douglas, also of the 1-11th Avn. Regt., clenched the women's division with a completion time of 8:14.

"By participating in these challenges, Soldiers can see where they are in comparison to their fellow Soldiers," Urbiztondo said. "Everyone has their separate fitness and health goals, but when challenged head-to-head, it forces people to tap into their competitive nature and work harder.

"It is great to see participants get cheered on and pushed by their fellow Soldiers, building camaraderie among competitors," she added. "Even though these challenges can be tense and you have to really focus to get through them, the participants have fun, as well.

The third quarter challenge, which will run Aug. 14-18, is a rowing challenge, Urbiztondo said. Competitors will use Concept 2 Rowers to complete a total of 2,500 meters in the men's division and 2,000 meters in the women's division. The fastest completion time wins.

According to Urbiztondo, each challenge is designed to challenge competitors in unique ways.

"The first quarter pull-up challenge was based solely on muscular strength, so I wanted the second quarter challenge to focus on muscular power and endurance," she said. "Both exercises are movements that most people are familiar with, and when combined together, comprise a workout that is guaranteed to challenge any person, regardless of their fitness level.

"Kettlebell swings and burpees are a great way to quickly get your heart rate and body moving," she added. "They require a higher level of functionality and body awareness, and will really make you grit your teeth as you power through the workout."

Tactical Throwdown challenges will continue quarterly until the end of the year, when a final competition will be held.

"Each new challenge will be announced soon after the previous one ends, so that the elements of each competition will be unknown to everyone until a few weeks before the scoring period begins," Urbiztondo said. "Since each quarter's challenge rules are not posted until the previous one ends, it only gives the participants a few weeks to prepare for the new challenge. Since health and fitness should be an ongoing mission, maintaining a daily fitness routine that works on muscular strength, power and endurance will be the best way to prepare for any fitness challenge.

"The challenges are not overly complex, but each one is meant to tax you in some way," she added. "Those who incorporate functional movements into their fitness programs will benefit best because of the multi-linear, multi-planar movements the challenges embrace."

According to Urbiztondo, repeat participants should expect to be increasingly challenged in future Tactical Throwdown competitions.

"I wanted these challenges to get progressively more difficult throughout the year, culminating in a final 'throwdown' that will include a lot of elements of tactical and functional fitness," she said. "I chose movements and exercises that build in intensity, as well as exercises that should be fundamental for them as tactical athletes, but will still challenge their fitness capabilities by testing their muscular strength, power and stamina.

"Competition is always a good way to push yourself because it forces you to have to go to that mindset when you start hitting a wall," she added. "It gives them something to train for and by having a goal to work toward, you are able to push your abilities and really see what you are made of."

Urbiztondo added that these challenges factor into the Performance Triad by giving participants fitness goals to work toward.

"In order to be ready and in the right state of mind to perform well, you need to ensure you take care of your body at all times -- not just in the gym," she said.

According to Urbiztondo, winners of each challenge will be highlighted in the Fort Rucker PFC on an engraved plaque along with additional certificates and awards.

For more information, call 255-2997.