By Kristin Molinaro, The BayonetSeptember 2, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. - There were no immunity idols to be found the morning of Sept. 1 on the field in front of the 2nd Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment, building, but that didn't stop nearly 60 members of the cadre from participating in a Survivor-style event labeled the Mailed Foot Challenge.
Kicking off to the musical beat of "Eye of the Tiger," drill sergeants, company commanders and a variety of cadre from the battalion's six basic training companies hit the field to "outwit, outlast, outplay" their opponents.
The cadre were broken into six teams and competed in seven events testing their physical abilities and skills in problem solving, creative thinking and teamwork.
LTC Lance Oskey, who brainstormed the Survivor-style challenge, said there was a need for a team event so that cadre across the battalion could meet each other and foster the team-building spirit.
The battalion conducts the 14-week one station unit training. Oskey said the opportunity to bring cadre together on this scale is rare because they are each on different training cycles. Currently, three of the companies are training troops while the other three are in the rest and reset portion of their cycle, a situation that might not happen again for another four to five months.
For the morning's challenge, each team lined up behind an event. An air horn blast signaled the beginning of each challenge - which teams had eight minutes to complete.
Once time elapsed, each team's results were scored and they rotated to the next event.
Events included a ball toss, tire flips, paintball shot, overhead weights, marble relay and sandbag challenge. The final event was a biographical pop quiz to see what the members of each team learned about one another.
SFC Timothy Terry, of Team 4, said he liked building a rapport with cadre from the other companies, whom he rarely sees unless they pass by each other while training troops.
Terry has been a drill sergeant with the battalion's F Company for 13 months.
"We kicked butt," Terry said of his team, though he admits he struggled in the weightlifting event.
"That was the worst for me ... just trying to keep lifting for eight minutes straight," he said.
SSG Denny Rush, said he struggled as well in the weightlifting event - which included weighted bars and kettle bells. Rush and a teammate worked together lifting a 45-pound bar and then switching to 40-pound kettle bars when they tired.
Rush, a drill sergeant with D Company, said the event that took the most strategy was the sandbag event. Teams had to carry 50 sandbags from the start point to a point 25 meters away, lift them over a high wall, carry them to a coned off area and then get each of their team members over the wall in under eight minutes.
"We missed it by 12 sandbags, we were 40 feet away when time ended," he said. "Game over."
Though some teams did better than others, and only one could claim the top spot, each team won, Oskey said.
"Unlike Survivor, where the point is to kick everyone off the island, at the end of this competition, the point is for everyone to know each other better," he said.
Teams get points based upon how many balls they toss into tires at various distances.
Teams must flip or roll tires down six lanes 25 meters long. They are awarded points based on how many laps they complete.
Teams move 50 sandbags down a 25-meter lane, over a high wall and into a coned-off area. All team members must climb over the wall.
Teams shoot at hanging pie plates from various distances using paintball guns.
Points awarded based on how many hits they get.
Teams must transport more than 100 marbles from one bucket to another 25 feet away. The catch' They have to carry the marbles on tent pegs and they can't walk with the peg.
Teams must lift a variety of weights. Points awarded based on how many reps they do of each weight. Poundage is added up for the team total.