Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sustainer's Challenge

So it's been a minute since I've written here, and let me tell you why.

I was voluntold that I was going to try out for a competition here. I was talking with my Commander one day, and he was telling me about this competition called the "Sustainer's Challenge." Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, he said in passing, "Since you and your LT are trying out, we should have a good chance of making the team." So... when you Commander says "since," it pretty much means you're going to do it. Well, the tryout was basically a test to see who could be tortured the longest and survive. That may be a slight exaggeration, but here's what the competition included. You start by completing a six mile ruck run. You wear all your gear, and run/walk as fast as you can to the finish line. The finish line is at a weapons qualification range, where you get forty rounds to fire as many as possible into the targets. Shortly after that, your team, changes a tire on a Humvee in full body armor as fast as possible. Then you had to carry a litter with a person on it 500 meters while completing various medical tasks. All of those human fitness feats are followed by the Army's Physical Fitness test. In which you do as many push-ups as possible in two minutes, as many sit-ups as possible in two minutes, and run two miles as fast as your already ground up legs can handle. All of that is followed on the second day by a combatives tournament (which is the Army's slightly safer version of UFC fighting). So, during the tryouts, we skipped the tire change and medical tasks (because they were team events) and jammed all the others onto a hot afternoon day-- thus the torture comment.

So I tried out after having been sick for three days, and just barely made the five person team. (I will spare the sickness details, but it was a light case of Saddam's Revenge, which is kinda sucky before a competition.) One of the requirements was for one person to be an officer, one to be over 30, and one to be female. The other two of us were the young PT studs. We took the five most fit people from our very large battalion to send to this competition, and we trained for two weeks.

We went down to the biggest base in Iraq for the competition. Hundreds of people showed up to watch including our commanding General. It was an intense couple of days. We realized when we got down there, that all the other teams had been practicing for this even for months. So we were a bit behind the bell curve, and we got totally whipped. Out of 22 teams, we placed 12th.

One of our highlights was the ruck march. The rule on the ruck run were that the whole team had to finish within 25 meters of each other, but you could share gear. This event that many other teams had been practicing for months, we were at a severe disadvantage.

We realized early on that our female was going to have a hard time with this. The gear we carried weight about half of what she did, so that's a tough task to ask. So right at the beginning of the race, we took her ruck, and I threw it on top of mine and carried it for her. Later on, some of our other guys took her other gear to free her up to pump her arms and just run as fast as she could. At the end of the race, we gave it all back to her so she could cross the line all geared up. We took third place. One of the other females complained that our female didn't carry all of her stuff, and our female responded, "It's not my fault that your team didn't have enough hooah guys on it to help you out. I just had an awesome team."

And you know what? That is an awesome answer. I was thinking about how in our Christian walk, we're all going to finish together. And you know what? The Bible commands us to carry each others burdens. It's not a problem that some people are going to have a hard time with someting, it's a blessing to get to work together and finish well. Regardless of how you have to do it. I like her response because there was no shame. She didn't feel like less of a team member because she hadn't carried her own load, she had done the best she could and was a good enough team member to realize that she could probably finish if she carried it by herself, but to finish well, she had to pass her burden off. Have you ever thought about strategically passing your burdens off on your Christian friends in order to finish well?

Anyway, sorry for dropping off the edge of the world for a while. That's where I was and that's what I was doing.