The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 3, 2012

Wilderness Challenge takes competitors to the extreme


— The Mid-Atlantic Region, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department’s 12th annual All-Military Wilderness Challenge is an extreme outdoor competition for all members of the armed forces. The challenge takes place Oct. 4-6 in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and on the New and the Gauley rivers in West Virginia and is hosted and co-organized by ACE Adventure Resort, West Virginia's largest outdoor outfitter.

More than 300 military personnel representing 40 teams from around the world are expected to compete. Teams are comprised of four active duty military, one of which must be female, and may include active duty, reservists, retirees and ROTC.

“Every year, the MWR Wilderness Challenge brings together the best athletes the armed forces has to offer and puts them to the test,” said Michael Bond, event coordinator. “As the competition gets tougher and tougher every year, so do the competitors as more teams battle it out for the title.”

The challenge contains a series of five outdoor adventure races in a team format designed to bring camaraderie, competition and team spirit between all five branches of the Armed Services. Teams participating in this year’s challenge will compete in an 8K mountain run, a 12-mile mountain bike race, a 14-mile forced hike through the mountains, a 13-mile whitewater raft race on the Gauley River and a 7-mile kayak race on the New River. Last year’s winner was Team “HT-18” from Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN (HT-18), from Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla.

“This is one of the most grueling, hard-fought competitions in the armed forces, so the winning team will be the best of the best in outdoor recreation and physical endurance,” Bond added.

In addition, the United States Adventure Racing Association (USARA) has endorsed the All-Military Wilderness Challenge as a qualifying race for the USARA National Championships.

As a USARA-sanctioned event, the winner of the Wilderness Challenge will be able to compete on a national level for what is considered the “heart and soul” of adventure racing in the United States: the USARA Adventure Race National Championship.

“USARA is excited to have the Wilderness Challenge as a 2012 USARA Regional Qualifier,” said Troy Farrar, president. “We hope to see several teams from the Wilderness Challenge represent their military branch and compete in the USARA Adventure Race National Championship.”

This year, the 2012 All-Military Wilderness Challenge welcomes the Honorable Keith Gwinn, cabinet secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs for West Virginia. Gwinn, a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, was appointed by West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in July 2011.

For more information about the 2012 All-Military Wilderness Challenge, visit online at www.wildernesschallenge.net.