TEMECULA, Calif. — Area Army Reserve Soldiers inspired and motivated competitors through the grueling and mountainous 2015 Southern California Tough Mudder race here, Oct. 31 - Nov. 1.
Approximately 30 citizen-Soldiers from the greater Southern California region spent their weekend motivating thousands of local mud-runners. The Reserve Soldiers encouraged the competitors at obstacles and organized an Army Reserve activation area complete with a drill sergeant-run fitness challenge.
The Army Reserve is a sponsor of the Tough Mudder obstacle race.
"We're involved in sponsoring the Tough Mudder because Tough Mudder embodies a lot of the things we embody as the Army Reserve as well," said Lt. Col. Matthew W. Lawrence, chief of recruiting communications at the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve, or OCAR.
"It embodies physical and mental fitness to get through this course," Lawrence said of the hilly, 10 mile, 21-obstacle event. "It also requires teamwork; a lot of people go through here in threes, fours, groups of 12; they work as a team to get through the course."
Lawrence said another reason the Army Reserve partners with Tough Mudder is to engage with the local communities, where Reserve Soldiers live and work.
"It's part of our community outreach," Lawrence said. "We want to show people that we're in the community; we're just like them ... being here at Tough Mudders across the country shows that we are here [for the community]."
Remaining physically fit is a requirement and lifestyle for Army Reserve Soldiers, and obstacle races are a big draw for military members and veterans.
Army Reserve Soldier Spc. Adam L. Holbrook, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 413th Regiment, 95th Training Division out of Riverside, California, ran his fourth Tough Mudder on Saturday.
Holbrook said he enjoys participating in Tough Mudders because of the camaraderie he experiences at the events.
"A lot of veterans come through these races," he said.
The full-time history student and drill sergeant candidate said he also likes to help support the Wounded Warrior Program; a program that he has several friends participating in.
To date, Tough Mudder has helped raise more than $8.5 million for the Wounded Warrior Project (an organization that helps wounded veterans in transition), by making it easy for both participants and spectators raise funds for the organization.
As part of the event's sponsorship, the Reserve hosted a physical challenge, where Tough Mudder participants could test their physical fitness - complete with drill sergeants, free identification tags and information about the Army and Army Reserve. The physical challenge included pushing a weighted sled, five pull-ups, a low crawl area, 20 push-ups, and pulling the weighted sled back into place.
Several Soldiers, from surrounding Reserve units, also helped spot competitors as they navigated the "Berlin Wall," a 12-foot wooden obstacle about eight miles into the race. Reserve Soldiers, from the 315th and 305th Engineering Battalions out of Camp Pendleton, California, cheered on participants, gave them tips for the fastest and safest way to get over the obstacle and offered them motivation.
"We're motivating them, cheering them on as they go through the race," Lawrence said. "We're here and we're part of their community."