By Scott Prater
Capt. Dan Coleman’s physical training sessions aren’t what they used to be.
Anyone who happens to catch a glimpse of Coleman running might notice his stern facial expression and his gritty, determined gait. The 1st Space Operations Squadron mission commander has been training like he’s on a mission lately, as have a few of his 1 and 7 SOPS teammates.
“I’ve felt a little tired on a couple of occasions during the past few weeks,” said Lt. Col. Mike Manor, 1 SOPS commander. “Then I’ve thought, well I better get out there and run so I’ll be ready. There’s only a couple weeks left until race day.”
Coleman, Manor and 10 more Team 8-Ball members will compete May 5 in the Colorado Spartan Military Race at Fort Carson, Colo.
“Originally, I was just going to run it myself because I kept hearing about these obstacle-style distance events, but I’ve never been stationed close enough to enter one,” Coleman said. “When I found out they were allowing teams to compete, I sent out a squadron-wide e-mail. Pretty soon, we had enough to field a team (four) and it grew from there.”
Lt. Col. Robb Owens, 1 SOPS director of operations, figured the race was a great idea on multiple levels: it was something fun and different from an average marathon or triathlon, the event would provide an opportunity for 1 and 7 SOPS to increase camaraderie and team members could use the event as motivation for their personal fitness goals.
“We go out and push pretty hard, and sometimes, it gets a little monotonous just running for the sake of running,” Owens said. “This gives us a goal, something to shoot for and anticipate.”
At 4 miles in length, the Colorado Spartan Military Race shouldn’t be too taxing for the majority of military members who must pass fitness assessments on a regular basis. Its difficulty lies in its 15 obstacles, some designed by the installation’s 4th Infantry Division and special forces units. Event organizers prefer to keep the specific obstacles a mystery. Competitors’ only clues for what they might face come in the form of videos that event organizers have placed on their website.
Coleman said each venue is different, but Team 8-Ball members can expect to climb cargo nets, crawl through mud bogs and face Pugil-Pole wielding gladiator types intent on impeding competitors’ progress.
Though Manor insists Team 8-Ball has not set a goal of winning the team competition, its members expect to represent the Air Force, Schriever and space squadrons well.
“There is something motivating about showing the other services what space operators are made of,” Manor said.
Anyone in 1 or 7 SOPS who is interested in joining the competition should contact Coleman for more information, but be advised entry fees get more expensive the later the date. Though entry fees for the Colorado Spartan Military Race are considerable, proceeds go toward the Green Beret Foundation, which provides unconventional resources to facilitate the special needs of wounded, ill and injured special forces members.
“The more I learned about the race the better it sounded,” Manor said. “It’s a bit expensive, but finding out that proceeds go toward helping special forces members was the big selling point for me.”
In the meantime, Schriever members might just find Manor, Owens and their teammates training in their grimy old running shoes.
“We don’t want to ruin our new shoes by trudging through mud and its best to train with what you’ll use during the race,” said Owens. “We’re anticipating getting wet and being cold too. It should be as much a mental test as a physical one.”
For more information on the Colorado Spartan Military Race, visit www.spartanrace.com.