CAMP GEIGER, N.C. --
Into the brisk Friday weather ran more than 28 Marines in pairs of twos aboard Camp Geiger, April 1. Each one equipped with a map, coordinates, protractor and a goal of finishing first.
For the second time ever the School of Infantry – East, held the Tough Man Competition, a friendly competition between battalions and instructors with the goal of building camaraderie and growing bonds between Marines.
“This is what Marines do when they get together,” said Lt. Col. John Armellino, commanding officer of AITB-East.
The event kicked off at 8 a.m. and required each team to run through the Obstacle Course twice in boots and utilities. After that, each team was given different coordinates that would lead them to their next station.
If they read it right, finding their next station would be no problem and would also allow them to finish faster and possibly come in first place.
Spread throughout Camp Geiger were several stations, each one challenging the Marines physically or mentally. Stations included, transporting a 7-ton’s tire from one side of a canal to the other and then back, 50 pull-ups, a push-up and kettle bell course, locating, assembling and doing check on a radio and also conducting a shoot-no-shoot course in the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer.
The drop dead time, when the competition was to be stopped whether finished or not, was four hours from the time each team started. Each team, however, finished their station before their time expired.
Some courses tested the men physically like moving a 7-ton’s tire across a ditch and back. The station required that the Marines maintain positive control of the tire while ensuring that two pieces of rope were in constant contact with the tire.
Some teams tied the rope around the tire and just pushed, pulled and rolled the tire into the canal, where the cold canal water greeted them. Others tied the rope around the tire and used the rope as a handhold to pull and push the tire to their destination.
Another station had the teams conduct a ‘keep in memory’ game. Items were pulled from a box and the teams then ran to another station where they had to see if they could remember the items that were shown to them.
There was also a station in which one Marine was blindfolded and had to have his teammate guide him using only his voice as the blindfolded Marine searched through a house for parts of a rifle and then had to reassemble it.
“Last year was all physical,” said Armellino. “This time it had more obstacles and made them think, even though this had less physical demands the mental part made it harder.”
Toward the end, after the Marines had run more than 5.6 miles, the end was drawing near.
Coming in at 54 minutes and five seconds were Sgt. Phillip Bateman and his teammate., Sgt. Keith Turnbow, both of whom are instructors with the Infantry Assault Leader’s Course, SOI – E. Turnbow was also last year’s winner.
Both Marines agreed that the course was tough and that the hardest part of the whole competition was the running.
“It was all about endurance,” said Turnbow. “Running all those miles in boots and utes was tough.”
In the end, however, it was not about who was more physically fit, it was a competition that would, with shared hardship, bring permanent personnel from SOI-E together.
“It couldn’t have been a better day,” said Armellino. “The whole purpose of this day was to bring all the battalions together to improve morale and camaraderie.”