COLUMBIA, S.C. – A U.S. Army National Guard Soldier with the South Carolina National Guard was recently selected to be a part of the inaugural year for the All Guard Endurance Team.U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kennith J. Wingard, 218th Regional Training Institute (RTI), 5th Battalion information technology specialist instructor, was one of 62 U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers, and one U.S. Air National Guard Airmen, who competed in the physical challenge. Thirty-four were selected for the team, including Wingard.Wingard said, “To make this team was fairly difficult given the caliber of competitors.”The entire competition consisted of 13 separate events all geared toward Army essential skills and total mind and body endurance all completed while wearing the Army Combat Uniform. The 13 challenges were: 1) DEKA Strong – an event that combined 10 fitness zones all preceded by a 500-meter run; 2) Sand Bag Carry; 3) Knee Tucks; 4) Obstacle Gauntlet; 5) T-Pushups; 6) Ball Toss; 7) Plate Carry; 8) Tunnels; 9) Grenade Throw; 10) Obstacle Gauntlet Part 2; 11) Deadlift; 12) Sprint, Drag, Carry; and 13) a final Run to the Finish Line.“We were all competing against each other for a limited number of positions on the team,” said Wingard. “Just like you see in the movies, after we finished our race, all we could do was wait for a roster to be posted. And when it was, everyone rushed over to the board looking for their name. And there I was!”The All Guard Endurance Team is an expansion of the existing National Guard Marathon Program, which promotes physical fitness, self-discipline, and esprit de corps among National Guard service members. The program will now consist of both the Marathon Team and the Endurance Team, each competing and representing the National Guard in approximately five events annually.Wingard recently won the state-level 2020 South Carolina National Guard Best Warrior Competition in January, before he accepted his position as instructor at the RTI. As the winner of the state-level competition, Wingard went on to compete in the Region III competition in August 2020.“My leadership took a proactive stance and let me know that whatever I needed they would support me in my training for the Region III Best Warrior Competition,” said Wingard. “It was in the middle of the Army Combat Fitness Test that U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. James Hooten asked me if I would be interested in trying out for this ‘endurance team’ thing. He said, ‘we kind of need to know right now because this was a last minute thing, and I think you would do good,’ and I said, ‘no.’ I couldn’t focus on anything else while the competition was going on.”After the Region III competition was over, Wingard was back at work and checking his e-mails he missed while away and found the e-mail explaining the endurance team. He was upset he had said no to Hooten so quickly.“After reading the emails,” said Wingard. “I knew that this was something I had to do! I instantly started texting, calling, and emailing everyone back begging for an exception, having already missed the deadline to put my name in hat.”With the support of his unit, leadership, and his wife, he made the team.“My wife, Rachel Wingard, sacrificed and endured countless days and weeks without me to train, would wake up at 4a.m. to cook me breakfast, would spend Sunday evenings meal prepping my meals for the week,” Wingard added. “We’ve all heard, ‘behind every great man, is a great woman,’ but I would say, ‘behind every great man, is an even greater woman.’ I couldn’t have asked for more.”During the All Guard Endurance Team competition, Wingard was fortunate enough to meet and compete against the very person who inspired him the most in endurance sports, U.S. Army Maj. Robert Killian, currently a member of the Colorado National Guard, and Professional Spartan Racer who won the 2015 Spartan World Champion, 2016 Best Ranger Competition Winner, and 2019 Spartan World Champion.“Maj. Killian has been an inspiration to me for years now. I am a mud run/obstacle course race enthusiast!” added Wingard. “Killian first inspired me because he was a Professional Spartan Racer and a Guardsman who won the 2015 Spartan World Championship. He showed me that it could be done. That I could be a Professional Spartan Racer too.”“My hope is to inspire other Soldiers to embrace health and fitness,” added Wingard. “I want them to see me out there, and know that they can do it too. I want to represent the Guard, as the team goes to compete in the near future, I just wish that I could possibly inspire other Guard [members] to train up and come join me; as well as inspire civilian’s to join the Guard.”For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter