Capt. Byron Critchfield, Iron Aviator title winner, trudges through the wooded area next to Lake Tholocco during the ruck portion of the AVC3 Iron Aviator competition Oct. 22. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)
Capt. Tortsen Ksoll and Capt. Anthony Blair bike up the hill as they embark on the 8.8-mile bike ride during the AVC3 Iron Aviator competition on West Beach at Lake Tholocco Oct. 22. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)
Published: October 30, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 30, 2014) -- With the sun high in the sky and the weather perfect for outdoor competition, Class 1403 of the Aviation Captains Career Course took to one of Fort Rucker’s most frequented spots to compete for one of the most coveted titles.
Soldiers of the course came together along the shore of West Beach at Lake Tholocco for the AVC3 Iron Aviator competition Oct. 22 as a capstone event to culminate six months of rigorous training, said Capt. Laura Pangallo, AVC3 small group leader.
“This is something that builds camaraderie amongst the Soldiers and it’s something the Soldiers are familiar with,” she said. “We do physical training every morning and the students have been here for about six months doing PT every single day.
“Most people, from start to finish of the (AVC3) course, increase their physical fitness because we run a robust physical training program,” Pangallo continued. “This event is just kind of a fun way to let them see how they’ve improved over the course.”
Soldiers of AVC3 were divided into five teams, each of which included an individual competitor who competes in all events. The event is comprised of painstaking physical fitness tasks to include a 300-meter swim in Lake Tholocco’s brisk waters, a 4.7-mile ruck march through the wooded area adjacent to the lake, an 8.8-mile bike ride through the streets leading up to West Beach and a 2-mile run to finish.
Although the event is for fun and camaraderie, it’s still a competition, and with all competitions, there is someone who comes out on top.
For the Iron Aviator competition, Capt. Byron Critchfield was the one to shine as he completed all four events with a time of 1 hour, 42 minutes. His team, the DisFUNKtional Hammeroids, which included fellow captains Kenneth Wheeler, Justin Kuhlman, Daniel Drake and Travis Haigler, also finished first with a team time of 1 hour, 35 minutes.
For most, the toughest event of the competition is the ruck march, during which the competitors must carry 25 pounds of equipment and a gun through a wooded trail. The swim comes in a close second being that it’s a form of physical fitness that most aren’t accustomed to.
Not all members of the teams were competitors, however, but they still provided an important role in helping their team cross the finish line.
If not a competing member on a team, Soldiers can participate as a member of the pit crew, which serves to help competing team members during transitions into each event.
Each team is allowed to come up with their own theme to make it a fun event, and their families are invited to come out and take part in the festivities, during which they cook out, throw flying discs and enjoy a good time bonding together, said Pangallo.
“We’ve been doing the Iron Aviator competition for more than 20 years, so it’s a tradition,” she said. “They get to bring their families out and barbeque, so it’s camaraderie plus functional fitness. It’s also a good way to give them ideas to take out to their unit with them on ways to make fitness fun.”
The members of class 1403 graduated from the course Oct. 29.
This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/137288/
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