HT-18 wins 2011 Wilderness Challenge


The two-day competition was rugged, to say the least: an 8-kilometer run through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, a 10-mile bicycle race, a 15-mile forced mountain hike, a 14-mile whitewater raft race on the Gauley River and a 7-mile kayak race on the New River.

When the dust had settled Oct. 8 on the 2011 All-Military Wilderness Challenge, the four-member team from Helicopter Training Squadron 18, Whiting Field, Fla., had come out on top, finishing in 7 hours, 30 minutes, 47 seconds.

Team HT-18, winners of the 2011 All-Military Wilderness Challenge. The team completed the five extreme outdoor events, totaling more than 50 miles through the mountains and rivers of West Virginia, with a total time of 7:30:47. Team members are, from left to right, Marine Capt. Joe Heintz, Marine 1st Lt. Marianne Sparklin, Cmdr. John Quillinan and Lt. Cmdr. Thaddeus Smith. // Photo by Mark Piggott

Team “Motor City Racing” from Coast Guard Medical Clinic, Detroit, came in second with a time of 7:34:08. Third was Team “Paradoxical Trinity” from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., which finished with a time of 7:40:17.

“We wanted to finish first,” said Navy Cmdr. John Quillinan, HT-18 team captain. “At the end of the first day we were up by three minutes, so we started thinking we can do this. On day two, we pushed ourselves hard to get to the finish.”

Everyone pushed hard, as this photo makes clear:

Team "Dead Last" from the Wounded Warrior Program at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., fights its way through Koontz's Bend on the Gauley River on Oct. 7 as part of a 14-mile whitewater rafting race during the 2011 All-Military Wilderness Challenge. Another team from the program, "Lost in the Woods," also competed; both finished to rousing applause from other participants as they crossed the finish line. // Photo by Mark Piggott

More than 100 Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard personnel spent Oct. 6-7 competing in the annual event, sponsored by the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown and ACE Adventure Resort, West Virginia’s largest outdoor outfitter. Teams must be composed of four active-duty service members, and one must be a woman.

“This event could not have happened without the great teams that competed this year or without the vision and leadership of Mike Bond, our MWR Director,” said Capt. Lowell Crow, commanding officer of WPNSTA Yorktown. “This is a world-class competition bringing together the best athletes the military has to offer.”


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