Army Rangers Team Up with CrossFit Games Champion to Design A Monumental Test of Fitness
Bear Valley, CA September 7-8
For adventure racers, CrossFit enthusiasts, and endurance athletes there is a new competition that may prove to be the ultimate challenge. “It is a monumental test of fitness,” explains Kent Keirsey, co-founder of Always Endeavor, LLC (Endeavor). The 30-plus hour event, named the Endeavor Team Challenge, takes place in Bear Valley, California, September 7-8th, and tests teams of two over a 40-mile course. Challenges along the way include obstacle courses, canoeing, mountaineering, orienteering, CrossFit-style fitness challenges, and more.
“People want something to train for,” explains Keirsey. He feels that existing events don’t satisfy this need. “They’ve done triathlons, mud runs, maybe even tried competing in the CrossFit Open.” But these events miss the mark. “Tough Mudder claims that triathlons and marathons are boring, and that may be true.” However, he explains, “The draw of a triathlon or marathon is that it is a mark on the wall. Training for a marathon is as much a part of the event as the actual race.” On the other hand, mud runs, like Muddy Buddies and Tough Mudders, “are fun, but they are events that the average athlete could roll off the couch and do.”
What Keirsey considers an average athlete, however, may be influenced by his time in the military. Before linking up at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and starting Endeavor, Keirsey and his co-founder, Greg Hastings, both served in the Army as part of the elite United States Army Rangers. Hastings fought with the Rangers on several deployments overseas. Keirsey fought with the 101st Airborne Division and then taught tactics to Rangers as an instructor at the US Army Ranger School. “You learn what people are really capable of,” explains Keirsey. Combat deployments and training courses like Ranger School, “push people well beyond their perceived physical and mental limitations. It turns out people are capable of much more than they think they are.”
In 2012, Keirsey and his brother Jim competed in the David E. Grange, Jr. Best Ranger Competition, a 62-hour event where 50 two-person teams of Rangers compete for the title of the best Army Ranger in the world. The experience nearly broke Keirsey, who finished with his brother in the top half of the field, but that was the best part. “It pushed me to my absolute limit. It was an amazing experience.”
Keirsey believes that others are looking for the same experience. There were more than a handful of classmates that were interested in hearing about the event. “I kept getting the question, ‘how do I compete in something like this?’ It struck a chord with them.”
In part, the Endeavor Team Challengeis an attempt by Keirsey and Hastings to answer that question and re-create the Best Ranger Competition experience for the general population. “We have tried to capture the best parts of that event while still making it accessible to the general public.” They removed the parts that required specialized military training, and shortened it to a 30-36 hour event. “We wanted it to be something competitors could complete in a weekend.”
They also wanted the event to be a true test of fitness. For this they solicited the help of an expert: James “OPT” Fitzgerald, a well-known fitness coach and trainer, founder of Optimum Performance Training, Inc., and winner of the 2007 CrossFit Games. Fitzgerald is helping to design the event, and will compete in the first iteration. He also blogs about his experience and training regime on the event’s website.
Another element that separates the Endeavor Team Challenge from other events is the team requirement. Keirsey explains that in part it is a necessity, as “having sleep-deprived people wander around in the woods without a buddy would be dangerous.” And in part it is intentional, “We designed the challenges to force people to work together to complete them.”
If you are interested in participating, find a teammate and sign up soon. The first event will take place September 6th through 8th, in and around Bear Valley, California. The registration price starts at $379 a person. “This is a high-quality, professionally run event that spans an entire weekend.” Keirsey said a good comparison is an Ironman, which has a similar price tag, or a guided mountain climb. “Competitors will get what they paid for.”
Competitors can also feel good about where their money is going. A significant portion of profits will go to Endeavor’s national non-profit partner Team Red, White & Blue, a veteran-focused non-profit. Another portion will flow into local communities where outfitters and contractors help staff the events and share in the profits. “We want to create a sustainable business, and that involves making sure the folks who help make the event a success can share in that success.”