GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba--A 10-event race of teamwork and competition brought out the best in everybody at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay who participated in the first ever GTMO Amazing Race Saturday, April 26.
Through the well-thought-out events of the race, everything from competitiveness, volunteerism, leadership, camaraderie and esprit de corps were shining brightly under the Caribbean sun.
The race had 10 teams, four participants per team, who were pitted in competition with each other to finish first and be named the day’s victor.
The events, in sequential order, were a 100-yard sprint to a M16 disassembly, assembly and functions check while blindfolded, 200-meter swim, 10 basketball free throws, 20 lb. sand bag carry, U.S. military history quiz, one hole of golf, a half-mile walk/run with water (the team had to have a full pint of water at the end of the half-mile), field goal kicks from the 20 yard line, flag folding and bowling.
According to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Atkins, with Joint Task Force’s Joint Medical Group, the most challenging event was the U.S. military history quiz.
“Our team, we did most of the physical aspects of it real well, and then when it came to the history portion, the test was so difficult we had a 10 minute delay because of it,” said Atkins.
Ten minute delays were the subsequent penalty for not completing an event in the number of tries or time allotted.
The race even featured an extra twist, just like the real Amazing Race, in the form of a second field goal kick station after flag folding, this time at the 30 yard line. According to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cynthia Holland, the extra station was added because the competitors were too quick and the bowling alley wasn’t open yet.
The teams had to commute on foot to each challenge and, throughout the morning, teams employed different strategies. Some teams stuck together and others split up and awaited the arrival of their teammates with a card, which was signed by the prior station’s official, to indicate its completion, and begin the next challenge.
The race was put together with a lot of logistics and planning. The effort of the dozens of volunteers was very evident throughout the event, which ended at the bowling alley a few hours later.
Army Master Sgt. Michael Rose, Army Lt. Col. Jerrie Muir and Holland were the main planners and throughout the competition wore began at 8 a.m. at Cooper Field and white hats, to signify they were the officials, and if any questions or rule explanations required their assistance, they were easily spotted.
The winners were the team representing J6. Its members were Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Calhoun, Air Force 1st Lt. Sean Coombs, Air Force Capt. Scott Parks and Air Force Capt. Jason Adams, all with Joint Task Force’s J6.
The triumphant team said they played to the individual strengths of their teammates. As each member had to participate in a minimum of two events, they planned ahead and worked that into their strategy. Attention to detail was another critical facet to their victory. Listening to the nuances of the rules and gaining a competitive advantage became a help to them, they said.
There was also some learning on the fly that they felt helped.
“We just focused on what other people were doing,” said Adams. “So we tried to pick out what the strengths were and duplicate it.”
The second place team was a group of Marines. According to Muir, and to the delight of the crowd that gathered in anticipation of the post-event awards ceremony at the bowling alley, the Marines found out about the race the night before and decided to compete.
“They put a team together, they trained all night, and they’re here,” said Muir.
They had a strong showing, especially considering their last minute entry, and wore their uniform pants, boots and T-shirts during the entirety of the event.
Army Sgt. Colton Williams, with the 747th MP Company, was a member of the third place team, Aria. “Our team name is Aria,” said Williams.
“It came about because I just had a daughter [his first child] … she was born on April 13.”
Because the team wasn’t representing a specific unit, Williams thought, “Well I’m going to represent my daughter. Go out there and have a great time, and these guys [his teammates] got on board and we are going to go from there.”
In the closing speech, while everybody was awaiting the complimentary pizza that the participants had a well-deserved appetite for, Muir, after giving a thanks to all the volunteers, summed up the competition nicely.
“I want to also thank all the other teams because I know it’s not easy,” said Muir. “It’s a lot of people perspiring and you came out, you did it, and everybody finished. To all the teams.”