FORT HOOD, Texas--Physical training is part of the daily routine for most Fort Hood Soldiers. However, the Rail Gunners have taken the average Army physical fitness test, turned up the degree of competition, threw in some extra motivation, added some morale boosters, and came out with a challenge that would recognize the most physically fit unit and Soldier within the brigade.

More than 120 of the toughest Soldiers and officers with the 41st Fires Brigade participated in the Rail Gunners APFT Challenge on Fort Hood, Nov. 2.

The challenge consists of the standard APFT format although; the increased level of competition encourages the participants to perform more repetitions to further their teams' chances of winning the overall challenge.

"The core function behind the APFT challenge is of course, a competition, but more importantly, it's a team building exercise," said Col. William McRae, Cleveland native, brigade commander for the 41st Fires Bde.

Every Soldier had a different reason for participating in the challenge, but everyone gave max effort to help advance their teams' score.

"The APFT challenge gets us out here together to compete with each other rather than against each other even though the top unit and the top Soldier or officer will receive recognition," said McRae.

As the adrenaline pumps and the sweat pours, the participants show more than raw strength.

"The APFT challenge not only measures a degree of a person physical ability, it also tests certain limits of a Soldier's character," said Capt. Fermin Hernandez, New York City native, commander for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 589th Brigade Support Battalion, 41st Fires Bde. "Those Soldiers willing to exceed the standards on the PT test are more than likely to have the motivation to exceed the standards in any task given to them."

One Soldier saw the challenge as an opportunity to push himself to higher physical limits.

"This was a good morning to have a PT test, the weather was perfect. My morale was high, I just had to push myself and I got it done," said CW2 Elton Williams, Panama City, Panama native, maintenance technician, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Bde. "It's been a little more than a year since I've taken a PT test. I've been recovering from a knee injury. I was just happy to see that I could max my pushups, sit-ups, and still do a decent job on the run."

The group of Rail Gunner Soldiers and officers took advantage of the good weather and gave the competition their all.

"It makes me proud to be associated with these great officers and Soldiers who gave more than a 100%," said McRae. "I'm always amazed by the enthusiasm and the motivation that the Rail Gunner family brings to any and every occasion."

The participants had to wait until Friday to learn who was the most physically fit Soldier and the fittest unit.

Lt. Col. Steven Carpenter, deputy commanding officer for the 41st Fires Bde. earned the highest individual score and a combined team of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery of the 41st Fires Bde, the 324th Network Support Company, and Battery A, 26th Field Artillery Regiment (Target Acquisition Battery), proved to be the most physically fit unit.