This weekend, for the second consecutive year and the third time overall, I ran in the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Boot Camp Challenge. It’s a fun, but challenging, race that I look forward to. Sane people tend to avoid it, but I enjoy it. Both for the experience itself (it’s rare to be able to experience the same obstacle course as Marine recruits) and the bragging rights.
Last year I finished in 26:44. Going into this year’s race, I hoped to at least beat my time. Breaking 25 minutes would have been even better. My hopes were quickly dashed when the emcee announced that, because we the competitors had demanded a tougher challenge, twelve obstacles had been added to the race. Twelve! I’d call that a significant hit to a 5k time.
I felt good, but not great, during the first mile. Since I don’t much fancy running, I don’t do it very often. As such, I’m not a strong runner, and while I probably ran the first mile in around eight minutes, people were passing me. That first mile was fast, mainly because there was a distinct lack of hay bales this year. My training for this race is a combination of sprints, squats, and box jumps. I don’t care how strong a runner you are, scrambling over hay bales, leaping and crawling under logs, crawling through tunnels, and climbing over walls will tax your muscles to the point where running becomes quite difficult. In the back of my mind, I knew the missing hay bales was ominous, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. That is, until I reached the mid-point of the obstacle section.
I came up to a long line of people crawling in the sand. This wasn’t the kind of crawling babies do, but the kind of on-the-stomach crawling that Marines do. I was not at all ready for this added challenge and, as a result, my stamina was sapped by the end of the crawl. In fact, my shoulders are still sore as I write this, almost 36 hours later.
As I finished, I knew I was far from placing in the top three of my age division. Even so, I stuck around for a bit to enjoy the festivities and await the posting of the results. I ended up running into a friend from work, which was nice as this was the first time I ran the race without any compatriots (in 2004 I ran as part of a three man team, last year I ran with a friend). In any case, my final time was 31:53, which put me in 30th place in my division (a 17 place improvement over last year) and 372nd overall (a 32 place drop from last year). In retrospect, it’s difficult to compare my performance from one year to the next, as the obstacles are different. In particular, I’m sure I lost at least four minutes to the sand crawl.
In addition to the traditional t-shirt given to each participant, last year I purchased a camouflage t-shirt for Kaylee. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything for me to purchase this year. Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t leave without any souvenirs. Over to the right is a picture of one of them.