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Bayonet Warrior Athlete Program

Soldiers endure The Martinez challenge

Published: 02:06PM May 3rd, 2018
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Northwest Guardian

1st Lt. Stephen Robarge, left, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Artillery, completes a set of 80 pushups as Staff Sgt. Justin Mannucci, right, of 864th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, keeps score during a 7th Infantry Division Bayonet Warrior Athlete Program competition at Cowan Stadium on Lewis Main April 26.

First Lieutenant Stephen Robarge, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division Artillery, and a few of his peers trained for about a week for the 7th Infantry Division’s Bayonet Warrior Athlete Program physical challenge known as The Martinez.

The Martinez was a time trial challenge held at Cowan Stadium April 26 — completing 40 pullups, 80 pushups, 120 air squats and a 1-mile run. He felt confident he could do it all in a decent time. He did; 14 minutes and 51 seconds.

In the last 100 meters of the last lap of his mile run, his wife, Rebecca, ran alongside him to help him finish strong.

“My wife was my best cheerleader running with me,” Robarge said. “Unfortunately, she beat me (in those 100 meters).”

All joking aside, it was a grueling physical challenge that tested the 7th Inf. Div. participants. Many hunched over after completing the last lap; others like Robarge sought shade in one of the stadium’s tunnels.

The challenge returned after debuting as part of the division’s Bayonet Warrior Athlete Program. Throughout the year, there are five more physical challenges where Soldiers attempt to gauge their own fitness levels.

But it also places a focus on functional fitness where there is no need for a lot of free weights and exercise machines.

“This has you do work with your body weight and show what you can do with nothing more than a pullup bar,” said Maj. Jason Yellman, deputy 7th Inf. Division surgeon.

The program’s certified trainers judged Soldiers to make sure they were using proper form for all exercises — no kipping on pullups and no going halfway on pushups and air squats.

Obviously, it’s hard to make a mile run easier. But plenty of Soldiers were able to finish the entire course in half-an-hour or less — significantly less.

Moments after Robarge set the time at 14:51, Sgt. First Class Phung Bun, of 2-17 FA, completed everything in 13:37. Not bad for someone who had only heard about The Martinez challenge a week prior.

Not long after Bun finished, his time was matched by Staff Sgt. Jaime Martinez, 864th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade. Both agreed that the run was the toughest part of the event, especially after using plenty of energy in the pullups, pushups and squats.

“By that time, you use up all of your muscles, and you’re just trying to finish,” Bun said.

Both Bun and Martinez felt that there were plenty of Soldiers who could beat their time. They were right. Not long after they had left, Sgt. Jaden Roberts, 1st Battalon, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, set the best time of the field in 12:44; followed by Sgt. Andrew Corey, 1-17 Inf., in 13:34).

While some Soldiers wanted to have the best time, it wasn’t all about competition.

“I was happy to complete it due to my age,” said 1st Sgt. Dereck Souder, 2-17 FA, who turned 43 Sunday. “My main focus was to complete it.”

That mindset is big for Yellman and the BWAP as the entire point of The Martinez and the whole program was to create a culture of fitness. It’s a culture that continues to grow with a recent partnership that formed with Madigan Army Medical Center’s R2 Performance Center.

While it was nice to see battalions and companies having pride in their performance, Yellman said the biggest win was the number of participants who took the challenge.

”Thank you for showing the initiative to prove yourself,” Yellman said to all participants before the event started. “Having your name on that piece of paper means a lot to this program.”