Staff Sgt. Ashley Davin, 102nd Security Forces Squadron, low crawls through the mud in Amesbury, Mass., Aug. 11, 2012. Davin was participating in the Spartan Race, testing her strength, endurance, and resilience against a course of challenging obstacles. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jeremy Bowcock/Released)
AMESBURY, Mass. -- Seven members of the Massachusetts Air National Guard competed in the New England Spartan Race here on Aug. 11 and 12. The Air National Guard has been a major sponsor of the event for the past two years and sent members to represent the Guard through the Spartan Sprint race with the goals of recruitment and team building. More than 15,000 people participated in the race over the weekend.
Master Sgt. Kevin Eccleston, Tech. Sgts. Kevin O'Brien, Tabitha Gendreau, Thomas Whiddon, and Staff Sgt. Rhon Salmon, Massachusetts Air National Guard production recruiters, along with Staff Sgt. Jennifer, and Staff Sgt. Ashley Davin, 102nd Security Forces Squadron, represented the Massachusetts Air National Guard at the event and demonstrated superior performance and personal determination in completing the race.
"I wanted to challenge myself," said Eccleston. "I am 48 years old and wanted to see how far I could get. I liked it last year and wanted to do it again."
It was an early start for the Airmen as they departed Cape Cod at 6 a.m. for the two-hour drive to Amesbury. Upon arrival, they set up a recruiting tent for the Air National Guard, registered for the race, and waited for their wave to begin.
Although it was their time-off from work and an early morning start, the Airmen said they felt their adrenaline kick in as the race got closer. They were given words of encouragement by a Spartan at the starting line before the challenge ahead of them.
"This year was a little scarier than before," Eccleston said. "This time I knew what I was up against and the obstacles I would face."
The race they were about to start was not your typical race. The Spartan Races are designed to push the physical limits and test even the most elite of athletes. According to the Spartan Race website, "Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life."
The Spartan Race travels to different locations around the world. The race was created in 2005 to test competitors in strength, stamina, and resilience across four different course levels. This Spartan Race is called the Spartan Sprint and is three and a half miles and features more than 15 obstacles through the dirt, water, fire, and mud.
The course started with a sprint up a large, steep hill, immediately breaking the faint of heart. Once they reached the top of the hill, the competitors were challenged with obstacles including mud pits, climbing walls, crawling under barbed wire, running through fire, the woods and up and down the steep hill while carrying sandbags.
At the finish line were two men guarding it with pugil sticks. Once across the line, competitors were rewarded with medals placed around their mud-covered necks. They are then considered a Spartan.
"It felt good to finish, it was very satisfying," Eccleston said. "I was happy to accomplish the obstacles I couldn't finish last year."
Some members also brought family and friends to share in their pain and struggle. The race was a good show of military members challenging themselves beyond the normal fitness standards. Members have to take time to physically prepare themselves before race day.
After the races were over and competitors started to leave, the Airmen packed up for the drive home, ending the long day triumphantly as not only Warrior Airmen, but also as Spartans.