1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Nine Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team’s “Charlie Med” traveled more than 1,000 miles to sprint, swim and navigate muddy obstacles in one of the toughest courses in the world.
“It was a complete suckfest, but it was a great team building opportunity,” said Capt. Edwin Pierce, brigade medical planner for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st BCT, 4th Infantry Division.
Pierce joined nearly 20,000 adventure seekers who descended upon Squaw Valley Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe in California Sept. 17-18 to participate in a Tough Mudder Challenge.
“It was a personal challenge (that) was an excellent culminating event to support camaraderie and leadership while supporting our wounded warriors,” Pierce said.
Capt. Travis Helm, commander, Company C, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., first learned of the challenge through Facebook. With proceeds from the event benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project, Soldiers from 1st BCT felt the challenge was the perfect way to commemorate “Raiders” killed or injured during their recent deployment to Afghanistan.
Helm began assembling a team of leaders from within the company and the brigade in early January when organizers of the challenge announced Denver as a host city.
“Unfortunately, because we were just arriving home from Afghanistan our timeline just didn’t fit,” said Helm. “We began looking at other opportunities to participate that were a little later in the season and were within driving distance of Colorado Springs.”
A native of California, Helm decided to attend the event at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. With personal ties to the community and the help of Family, friends and local businesses in Lakespur and Truckee, Calif., costs were largely offset.
“After 24 hours on the road, we arrived at the resort to see the daunting course that was pretty much straight up,” said Helm. “The course was extended two additional miles … than originally planned; but, at that point, I don’t think anyone really cared, it was disconcerting.”
The 12-mile course boasted two dozen man-made obstacles that littered an already challenging course, which spanned the resort’s nearly 4,000 acres along three peaks and up Squaw Valley’s 2,850-foot vertical mountain face.
Designed by British Special Forces and touted as the most challenging obstacle course, the challenge gained global interest and has raised more than $2 million for the Wounded Warrior Project in its two-year history.
“I knew almost everyone processed for care, from point of injury all the way back here in the (United) States,” said Pierce. “I wanted to do whatever it took to be part of any team that helps support our wounded warriors.”
The best part of the challenge was the amount of energy over the two days, Pierce said. He added that the challenge was a well-balanced mix of military-style obstacles and the community wanting to give back to its most precious commodity — the American Soldier.
Competitors ran through flames and dashed through live wire fields, which served 10,000-volt shocks.
“We largely relied on teamwork and other competitors to get through obstacles while pushing through the cold and pain,” said Helm. “No matter what, our goal was for everybody to start together and finish together, even if that meant to buddy carry, push or pull. … We started out strong, not to win any records, but to finish as a team.”