17 accept 24-Hour Adventure Challenge

Neighbors

July 15, 1999|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHILE MOST of us were hiding inside air-conditioned buildings during those brutally hot, early days of July, 17 central county residents were stretching the limits of human endurance.

The men were training for the 24-Hour Adventure Challenge at Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va., the brainchild of former Navy SEALs, whose motto is "call me `former,' never `ex,' SEAL." The challenge was inspired by the Raid Gauloises races the SEALs participated in in 1989 in France.

The local men trained with former SEAL Stew Smith, owner of GetFitNow.com in Severna Park. "Our workout is the perfect preparation for these endurance events," he said.

The Marylanders were a bunch of unlikely jocks, among them a graduate in classical philosophy from St. John's, a French chef, a police detective and a couple of aspiring rock musicians.

Divided into teams of four, the men worked together and looked out for each other. While the participants swam laps in a pool -- dressed in fatigues and heavy boots -- the leaders hurled abuse and interference, dunking the men, grabbing their legs, and throwing water in their faces when they surfaced to breathe.

"Ever try to run in the ocean with boots on?" said Brian Good, a trainer at GetFitNow.com, and a team captain.

The men also practiced diving 12 feet to the pool bottom to retrieve a face mask with their teeth -- while their hands were bound behind their backs.

Moving from pool to ocean, they learned a new meaning for sugar cookie: Run into the water, run back to the beach, roll in the sand, then race up and down the beach.

In the Log PT exercise, log stands for telephone pole. They weigh about the same as the Kodiak rubber boats SEALs carry on their missions, and Good described the task this way: "The men were lined up by height and hoisted the logs over their heads, in a kind of reverse push-up. If they weren't doing it right, the instructor would hang on the pole, adding his 200 pounds."

The training went on all afternoon, after a dinner break and throughout the night, ending at about 8 a.m. -- minutes shy of 24 hours.

What participants experienced was similar to the infamous "Hell Week" Navy SEAL trainees endure. The event was professionally run, and safety was a prime consideration, said Good.

The most difficult tasks were presented in the morning when participants were fresh, and action was halted during a storm.

"When it was over, some people had had enough," said Good. "Others couldn't wait to do it again. One in our group is even hoping for a career in the SEALs."

Information: Stew Smith, 410-975-9550.

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