While many of us were sleeping in bed, 31 participants were pushing through pain barrier at the 16-hour endurance challenge at Puckapunyal on 17 November to raise funds for Legacy.
CAPTION: Australian Army soldiers based at Puckapunyal, Victoria, participate in the 16 hour endurance challenge. Story by Major Carrie Robards.
While raising money for charity was a key motivator for the event, the Combined Arms Training Centre (CATC) Physical Training Instructor (PTI) cell also wanted to provide a safe environment for participants to push themselves past the physical limits normally reached during standard PT sessions.
PTI Warrant Officer Class Two Dale Gormann said the event was designed to be accessible for everybody, with competitors having a choice of participating on the rower, ski-erg, rogue assault bike, keiser spin bike, run, or 20kg weight-loaded march as either an individual entry or as part of a team.
“By design, we knew competitors would reach a point where the body battery would run out and mental strength and the correct mindset would be the sole contributor towards successfully completing the activity,” Warrant Officer Class Two Gormann said.
Trooper Elizabeth Gilfoyle from the School of Armour had recently completed her initial employment training and signed up for the challenge on an impulsive to test her fitness and mental resilience.
“I’d had a challenging couple of months physically due to a few injuries,” Trooper Gilfoyle said.
“But the Ski-erg is one of my favourite cardio machines and knowing that there weren’t many people in the event I thought it would be a good way to set internal challenges and see if I could push past a point of wanting to quit when there wasn’t any real reason for me to keep going.
“I wanted to just be able to say I put in an effort that I was proud of – and I wanted to give the world of endurance events and fitness competitions a try.”
Trooper Gilfoyle was voted best on ground for her performance in her first endurance event, surpassing her original goal and achieving a distance of 120km with a 20 minute working, 10 minute rest work cycle for the duration of the 16 hours.
She attributed her success to the atmosphere of the event and watching the grit and determination of other competitors.
Commandant CATC Colonel David McCammon said that the endurance event provided the opportunity for soldiers to test their readiness for combined arms warfighting.
“While soldiers are required to be physically fit, testing mental toughness can be a more difficult task,” he said.
“Having successfully pushed through what they previously thought were their limits, these soldiers can employ the lessons learnt into their future roles in Army.”