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Competitors in the paddleboard relay-race take off in the hopes of winning first place for their company during the Commander’s Cup Challenge July 20 at the Gottschalk Marina aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The relay-race is the first challenge in the new 12-month cup cycle, with Company A winning the last cycle of events.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott W. Whiting

Commander’s Cup kicks off brand-new cycle with paddleboarding

20 Jul 2012 | Lance Cpl. Scott W. Whiting

After 12 months of grueling competition, Headquarters and Support Battalion named Company A the winner of the year-long cycle of competitions, known as the Commander’s Cup Challenge, last month. Company A didn’t have much time to celebrate their victory however, as the battalion was right back at it July 20, with the first contest of the new cycle being a paddleboarding relay-race.

Companies A, B and I, along with Security Company, all met at the Gottschalk Marina aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, each hoping to win the Commander’s Cup for the month of July. Lt. Col. David Bardorf, commanding officer of HQSPTBn., and Sgt. Maj. Michael Rowan, the battalion’s sergeant major, were also in attendance for the event.

Marybeth LeMaire, an instructor with Marine Corps Community Service’s Outdoor Adventures, gave the Marines a safety brief and explained the rules of the race. The rules were simple: The Marines were to paddle from the marina to the Wallace Creek Bridge, turn around and go back. That route was to be taken twice; when the Marines reached the docks again, they would do five pushups on the paddleboard and switch out with the next competitor in line. The team with the fastest time would win the competition for their respective company.

The anticipation in the atmosphere was palpable as the Marines in the first relay lined up and waited to take off. When the command was given, the Marines paddled as fast as they could to take the early lead. Bardorf blazed past the competition and the distance between him and the rest of the pack grew increasingly large. Due to early confusion of the rules however, he ended up finishing second in his relay.

Throughout the morning, Marines cheered on their companies as they took their turns paddling to the bridge and back. The comradery was evident at the event, with Marines laughing and joking around with each other. Some Marines fell off of their boards and the ensuing laughter seemed contagious.

The event lasted approximately three hours, with the companies each having multiple teams of up to four participants each, due to the large turnout.

“I think today was a huge success,” said Bardorf. “Anytime you can get a bunch of Marines all together in a competitive environment, it’s a success.”

Company B rose above all with the first relay to finish. Their team included the company’s former first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Dustin Kazmar.

Kazmar was emotional after the competition, saying the Commander’s Cup Challenge is one of the things he will miss most about being a part of HQSPTBn. He said he is very competitive and will greatly miss the Marines he competed with on a monthly basis during the challenges.

Bardorf said the second Commander’s Cup Challenge for this cycle will be basketball, in August.