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The pack of runners at the fifth annual Mountain Warrior Challenge, May 16 at the Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., makes their way up Heart Attack Hill to begin the race.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

MWTC hosts Mountain Warrior Training Challenge

16 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Service members, along with civilians from the surrounding communities, participated in the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center’s fifth annual Mountain Warrior Training Challenge May 16, aboard the base.

The event has undergone changes from the last year, making it larger than it has been before, said David Warden, the Marine Corps Community Services area coordinator and a Minden, Nev., resident.

“There are more venues for the children now than there were before,” Warden said. “We still have the big race, but there’s still the one for the kids too. This year there are a lot more booth attractions for kids and the family to enjoy as well.”

There were multiple competitions and activities for the 257 competitors and their children.

“The Youth Fitness Challenge costs $5 to enter,” he said. “The free events were a bounce house, a fishing pond, mule rides and multiple carnival games.”

There were 34 booths with a variety of different vendors and corporations for the patrons of the event to enjoy, he said.

Although the booths drew much attention, it all centered around the race.

“The race is 10 kilometers, but all over the place there are obstacles to make it even harder,” he said. “There are two tunnel crawls, a low crawl, a hay bale climb, the five foot wall and the tire obstacle.

“The worst part, I think, is the climb at the beginning of the race,” he said. “Heart Attack Hill, as it’s called, is at the beginning of the race, and it’s no small hill.”

The race has been anticipated by both service members and civilians since last year, he said. It is a major event for the base and it attracts a large number of good runners from the community.

“We’ve never had a Marine win the race here,” he said. “A lot of civilian runners with a lot of talent come every year.”

This year was, however, a Marine won for the first time, he said.

“Sgt. Beal won the race this year,” he said. “First time a Marine won it. He beat everyone by a good distance too.”

Joshua A. Beal was crowned the victor of this year’s race when he set a new record for completing the course, he said.

“Sgt. Beal had a time of 49 minutes, 52 seconds,” Warden said. “He smashed whatever the old record was and set the bar very high for next year.”

Beal, a Central City, Kan., native, attributed his success in the race not to his preparation, but his past experiences as a distance runner.

“I didn’t train too hard leading up to the race,” Beal said. “I always ran as a kid. I did a marathon or two when I was growing up. I’ve just always been a good runner.”

There were multiple other categories in which contestants could place, Warden said.

“Aside from Sgt. Beal, there were men’s and women’s age groups going all the way from 15 to over 80 in four year increments,” he said. “The women’s best was April Shonnard, who ran the race in 52 minutes 20 seconds.

“All the individual categories had their own winners,” he said. “There were five team champions as well, for their own categories.

“The male team was the Johnson Summerville St,” he said. “The mixed and female teams were Banks Banks’ Brigade and Burke Jac.

“The military team was Team Gomez Hayward, Drap,” he said. “And the final team, the corporate team, was the Green Da Dawgs.”

With the festivities finished this year, the race coordinators will begin planning for the sixth annual race next summer.

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