News: JBLM couple orienteers through military marriage
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Lessmeister
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – First Lt. Kevin Culberg and 2nd Lt. Hannah Culberg both experienced orienteering for the first time in college and fell in love with it – and eventually each other.
Orienteering is an obscure, but difficult sport.
“It’s basically just land navigation except much more fast-paced,” said Kevin, a platoon leader with the 45th Military Intelligence Company, 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. “You’re running pretty much the entire time using only [a] map and compass, following a set course.”
Kevin, a Las Vegas, native, met Hannah, of Pittsburgh, on the orienteering team at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 2008.
The two began hanging out and working out together and eventually started dating, Hannah said.
They were married in August 2012 and continue to express their passion toward orienteering.
Together, they have traveled to Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Ireland to participate in orienteering events and competitions. The couple recently participated in the 46th World Military Orienteering Competition Aug. 26 through Sept. 1 in Eksjo, Sweden.
“The competition happens every year and is hosted in different countries,” said Kevin. “It’s the first time (the United States) sent a team in 14 years.”
Hannah, an officer with 555th Engineer Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, said her love of running brought her to orienteering. She liked running, but found it could be dreary, so the challenge of running while navigating presented a fresh outlook.
Orienteering has benefited both the Culbergs’ military careers, they said.
“I’m not the (lieutenant) who’s just lost all the time,” Hannah said. “I’m comfortable with the outdoors.”
Orienteering in the dense woods of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., area is not the prime setting for the sport, said Kevin, but it is still nice being able to enjoy the outdoors activity with his wife.
“We compare our experiences and bounce things off each other to improve ourselves at the sport,” he said.
Hannah is one of the top five female orienteers in America and is on the U.S. team for the World Orienteering Championships, which is made up of five men and five women.
“Scheduling can be a little bit stressful, but (Kevin)’s very supportive,” said Hannah.
Thanks to orienteering, Hannah said she has seen a lot of the world she would not have been able to see otherwise.
Though she is one of the top orienteering women in America, Hannah admitted it is a “humbling experience” to go to international competitions.
At the World Military Orienteering Competition, Hannah finished 23rd out of 58 in the 4.2 km middle distance course and Kevin finished 139th out of 193 in the 5.3 km middle distance course.