Sweat, heat and determination filled the gym as Soldiers grunted through Crossfit-inspired workouts at the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Battle of the Brave competition at Thor3 gym April 13 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The event kicked off with Kristyn Felix, event organizer and participant from 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne ) Group Support Battalion, calling 30 seconds until the first heat began. For Felix, this was more than any fitness competition, being her first time competing as well as hosting the event on base.
“I came up with this idea with some of my workout buddies last year,” Felix said. “We thought it would be fun to have a Crossfit-type competition for the Group. I came up with the movements for the competition and started planning the event.”
The movements were devised for a multitude of strength and cardiovascular endurance in mind and for those who were eager to test their strengths. The event was divided between three ability groups: Rx, Scaled and Mixed.
Rx teams, “Rx” a Crossfit term meaning “as prescribed,” were required to complete 2,000-meter row, 50 squat cleans with 135 pounds, 50 wall ball throws with a 14 or 20 pound ball, 200 burpees, 50 deadlifts with 135 pounds and 50 partner sit-ups with legs interlocked.
Scaled teams, meaning tailored to suit beginners, needed to execute half of the amount of repetitions as Rx with less weight. Mixed teams modified their workouts to suit either Rx or Scaled requirements.
Soldiers, however, proved more than just their physical strength; they demonstrated team camaraderie and pride in their unit.
“It is really inspiring to watch people take part in a competition and push themselves as much as they can,” Felix said. “It is also awesome to see the crowd react to the competitors and cheer them on. Competition brings a team closer together.”
Soldiers gathered in their teams of two to trade-off completing each event. Participants were required to finish each workout but could take breaks to catch their breath while their partner completed the required number of repetitions.
After finishing the event, the Soldiers threw on their weighted rucksacks and bolted out the back door to run a two-mile route.
In the third heat, Heather Jantsch, from the group’s Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, and one of the winning teams, pushed through what she said was her toughest event, the squat cleans, with the encouragement from her team and the crowd.
“The best part about it was participating with my first sergeant and the Soldiers cheering us on,” she said.
Following Jantsch, a winning competitor from “Team Maint,” Andrew Kievit, from GSB Maintenance, said that whenever he felt like giving up, he told himself to “just keep going.” Kievit was grateful that Felix motivated Soldiers to jump in and work together as a team.
“I want to thank Major Felix for setting this up and inspiring me to do this,” he said.
Following the event, all participants, guests and supporting members joined behind the Group Support Battalion building to celebrate with a live DJ, barbecue and awards.
Winning Soldiers were awarded 1st SFG metal plaques engraved with the Special Forces’ motto, “To Free the Oppressed.” Although the barbecue served to be the highlight of the event, the coordinator enjoyed seeing the Soldiers put forth their energy and focus into the challenge itself.
“The most exciting part of the event is seeing people push themselves during the competition,” Felix said. “It is awesome to see people really put everything out there.”