Soldiers postwide got a chance to test themselves to their mental and physical limits June 24 when they competed against the clock and against each other during the second annual Endurathon at Fort Drum.
The Endurathon consists of a variety of common soldier tasks that are challenging enough if done one at a time and spread out over a regular work week, so just completing them all in one day is an accomplishment, let alone being competitive in all of them.
“They started out with a run in full kit at Magrath Gym in full body armor to Range 2, where they fire at targets with an M-9 pistol and an M-4 carbine and then back,” said 1st Lt. Steven Ballinger, a staff operations officer with 1st Brigade Combat Team. “From there, they dropped their body armor, grabbed their packs and ruck march as fast as they can to Remington Park, where they canoe for 800 meters, back to ruck marching for another couple of miles, a surprise lane and then ruck to the finish.”
The surprise lane turned out to be a combat casualty care exercise where Soldiers had to evaluate a casualty, render the correct aid, coordinate for a helicopter medical evaluation and finally, secure the casualty onto a litter and carry him up a hill towards the “LZ” or landing zone. From there, it was back down the hill and on with the rest of the course, all while wearing their approximately 60-pound rucksacks.
Soldiers competed in teams of two, and both members of each team had to complete the same events. They had to not only be fast, but accurate as well. Having the fastest time in completing the events did not necessarily translate to winning.
“How well they do in the medical event and the range can affect their score,” Ballinger said. “Time is added for every shot they miss as well.”
Not surprisingly, Soldiers all had the events they liked best and those not so much. The likes and dislikes were as varied as the Soldiers themselves, with just as many liking the same event as much as those that disliked it.
“For me, the hardest events were the ruck (marching) and the litter carry,” said Sgt. Bryce Lyons, a squad leader with A Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “The running and canoeing were the easiest.”
Bryce, along with his teammate, Spc. Jeremy Machanic, would go on to end win this year's Endurathon.
Every team competing in the Endurathon gave it all they had, and examples of the toughness, endurance and resilience as well as the teamwork for which the American Soldier is known were seen throughout the course.