GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – Fear and uncertainty was felt by 16 U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay residents who scrounged up enough courage to partake in the first Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fear Factor competition, Feb. 24.
"When you walked up to the [Windjammer] pool and the first thing you smelled were rotting fish, you started to really think about the kind of fools that would sign up for such a challenge," said Meghan Phillips, a Soldier deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo and participant in the competition.
Only eight two-person teams accepted the challenge to compete in the three events that tested their mettle to do whatever was deemed necessary to win the competition. Despite the limited competitors that could sign up, many spectators showed up to watch the grossly humorous events as well as to provide support.
The Fear Factor competition began with "The Swamp Swim," where one member of each team would submerse themselves in a container filled with murky water, dead fish and squid. The task was to retrieve 20 washers that were thrown in the bucket in less than three minutes. While most tried to keep their face above water, as time wore on they succumbed to dunking themselves entirely to obtain all the washers. After the first event, two teams were eliminated; one didn't finish in the time allowed and the other had the longest time.
The second event was "The Gory Gorge," where the other team member consumed a pound of unidentifiable meats in the fastest time possible. The four fastest teams advanced to the final round. Participants had five minutes to put away an assortment of pig feet, pork stomach, pig tail, pig ears, beef heart, beef tongue and beef liver. Two team members managed to finish their plates while the other four teams had their plates weighed to determine who ate the most.
"All the food was pretty greasy and that was what grossed me out," said Erika Bilchik. "I really wasn't trying to taste any of it."
The third and final event was "The Gauntlet," where the last four teams competed to finish the obstacle course in the quickest time possible. The event started with one team member climbing an inflatable iceberg to obtain four bandanas, just to knot them on an underwater rope. The member was only allowed four breaths to tie all the bandanas.
Once that was completed, they swam to the side of the pool to hand tag their team member to proceed in the second portion of the event. Both members ran to the shallow end where the second member would buddy tow the other to the deep end of the pool. The event was completed as soon as they touched the wall at the deep end.
The winning team, Phillips and her teammate Liam Walsh, finished the final event in 4 minutes, 59 seconds and were awarded two iPods. Second place was Travis Thomas and Forrest Rodman, who finished in 5 minutes, 57 seconds and received two $50 Navy Exchange certificates. The third place team of Bilchik and Jonathan Goble finished in 6 minutes, 12 seconds and received two MWR gift certificates.
This Fear Factor competition was made possible by Liberty Center staff Rebecca Reed, Trecia Anderson, Norris Brown, Jason Hamilton and Cinco Brian. Jeffrey Shaw of MWR and the Windjammer Pool lifeguards also assisted in the coordination and success of the event.
"This is the first time that Liberty has offered [Fear Factor] for the adults and it turned out great," Anderson said. "There is a good possibility that it will become an annual event."
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This work, Fear: What Can You Handle?, by SSG Megan Leuck, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.