MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego hosted the 10th annual Boot Camp Challenge Sept. 24, giving civilians a chance to experience a day in the life of a recruit and for service members who wanted to re-live their days as recruits.
The Boot Camp Challenge is a three-mile race around the perimeter of MCRD featuring more than 40 obstacles used in recruit training. Some obstacles were modified to make them easier to accomplish.
At the start and finish point, several sponsors hosted booths for participants to gather information including a pull-up bar station, laser tag.
Marine Corps and Boot Camp Challenge memorabilia were also for sale. Free haircuts were available to participants who wanted to feel like a recruit. Food was also available for purchase from a local vendor in addition to free snacks that were provided.
Each participant also received an event t-shirt with their registration to commemorate the day.
“This opens the door for the residents of San Diego to see what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Brody Goldthwaite, chief drill instructor, receiving company, recruit training battalion. “It’s the only obstacle course where you can interact with drill instructors.”
To make the boot camp experience more realistic, approximately 60 drill instructors were placed throughout the course to motivate participants by yelling words of encouragement and chasing them through obstacles.
“We give them the same amount of intensity we give to recruits,” said Sgt. Robert Jimenez, drill instructor, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. “We showed them exactly what recruit training is about.”
As the race began, participants anticipated the challenge ahead, many unfamiliar with the course and obstacles they have to complete.
“The beginning was hard because you’re just warming up and don’t know what to expect,” said Jewel Johnson, who won first place in the female division with a time of 20 minutes and 51 seconds. “Those hurdles are crazy, the obstacles are no joke.”
Some of the obstacles included running over hay bales, crawling through tunnels, and climbing over log hurdles and walls. Drill instructors anticipated the runners’ arrival at each station, encouraging them to move along the course faster.
“The push-ups are hard when (the drill instructors) are in your face,” said Johnson, who also ran the race last year.
With drill instructors in her face while she was doing push-ups, Johnson couldn’t help but to think, “You’re going to go away if I close my eyes.”
Unfortunately though this was not the case, and they continued to move her through the course.
More than 2,300 participants, including civilians and service members, completed the challenge including local Junior ROTC units.
“We ran three miles at the football field singing (cadence), to prepare for the race,” said Rafael Reenstjerna, a senior at Crawford High School in San Diego. “We did this for the experience and we all have bruises.”
Participants had the option to run the course alone or in three- and five-man teams. Many teams wore costumes or custom t-shirts to show their team spirit.
In order to compete as a team, all members were required to cross the finish line at the same time. They all accomplished that goal, even if it meant carrying their teammates across the finish line.
“A lot of civilians were more prepared than I expected,” said Jimenez, who volunteered on his time off between cycles. “They weren’t joking around. They were here to get the feeling of recruit training.”
After all participants cleared the obstacles, Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, commanding general of MCRD and the Western Recruiting Region, ran the course to pick up the drill instructors at each obstacle.
The race came to an end as they arrived at the finish line together singing cadence while running in formation.
“It’s about competing, and completing the challenge,” said Yoo. “We don’t leave anyone behind.”
Winners were announced in a number of categories and age groups and were presented with medals.
Race results can be found online at www.bootcampchallenge.com.