By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn
Special to The Weekly
Editor’s note: Army 1st Lt. Elliott Megquier of Bangor is a graduate of Bangor High School and the University of Maine. He is currently stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y.; this article was excerpted from the base newspaper, The Mountaineer.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Running plays an important part in the life of a soldier, from daily morning physical fitness and weekend fun runs to the annual Army Ten-Miler. Running builds stamina and endurance. It can also bring out the competitive spirit.
For one such soldier, running has become a sort of obsession. A triumph over mind and body. A will to take on not only another competitor, but also the elements and obstacles along the way. A chance to become a Spartan.
Since entering the Army in 2010, 1st Lt. Elliott Megquier, distribution platoon leader in Co. G, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, has competed in three Army Ten-Milers, one Tuff Mudder, and 23 Spartan Races.
For Megquier, the competitive spirit entered him in the second grade and has stayed with him throughout his school years until now.
“I was actually a soccer player from second grade, and all through college I played soccer,” he said. “And I was always competing with my sister over stupid stuff. I always like to win. I do not care what I am doing; I want to be the best.”
“I got recruited for the Fort Lee Ten-Miler Team competing down in (Washington), D.C.,” he said. “(The team was) pretty organized. We practiced three or four times a week in preparation for the Army Ten-Miler, which is in October every year. I ended up being the top runner that year.”
A week after the race, he moved to Fort Drum. Aside from physical training, he continued to run on the weekend just for fun. One Saturday, he was flagged down on the side of the road by a fellow soldier, who introduced him to the world of the Spartan Race.
“I always liked running, even for soccer I sometimes ran to train for it, so, yeah, I was just out for my daily run, ” Megquier said. “And this guy that was in my company was driving by yelling at me ‘You want to do this race?'”
Megquier admitted he wanted to ignore the guy, but eventually he conceded. In May 2011, he participated in his first obstacle-type race called the Tuff Mudder.
“I was like ‘yeah, sure, why not.’ I figure if someone was crazy enough to yell at me on a Saturday morning while I am running, it is probably a good race,” he continued. “So I did the race with him. That is how I kinda got into racing.”
Megquier’s appetite for competition grew from that first race. The following month he began participating in the Spartan Race.
The Spartan Race is not only a run to the finish line; it is an intense competition that matches the wit and fortitude of each competitor. The races are based on running. There are three different distances: The Sprint, which is three to five miles; Supers are five to eight miles; and the Beasts are 13 to 15 miles.
After the competitor gets past the running portion of the race, there are various obstacles to maneuver past, including a barbed wire crawl, wall climb, rope climb, sand bag carry, cinder block drag, pugil stick gauntlet, tire flips and a spear throw.
Megquier said that it is not as easy as it sounds. For instance, the barbed wire crawl can be all uphill or up and down hills with a wire only a foot to a foot and a half from the ground.
“You are going for speed, so sometimes you get cut, you bleed,” he said. “I actually roll to go faster; it’s not the standard Army low crawl, so you have to give up your body in the barbed wire because you can gain a lot of time.”
Then there are the walls that are set at various heights and angles.
“Other than barbed wire, there are wall climbs. Some of them are inverted with rope that helps you climb up it; others are eight to 10 feet, some are shorter at six feet, and some are four feet. It just depends,” he said. “Sometimes you climb under a wall, sometimes you go through the wall like in a hole.”
Megquier has competed in all three Spartan Race distances. In 2012 he ran in seven Sprints, four Supers, and five Beasts. He placed in 12 of those races. The Spartan Race wrapped up its 2012 race schedule in December. Megquier finished well in the last two races and currently is ranked No. 1 for the 2013 season.
This past October, Megquier competed in his third Army Ten-Miler. He said training for this race helps him run better during the Spartan Races.
How does Megquier prepare for his competitions? He does not have a set training regimen, per se. He does regular PT (physical training) with his platoon, and then finishes by himself. He also does small workouts throughout the day.
“PT does help. I do not always get the best workout with my platoon, but afterwards I just crush myself,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have one to two hours in the morning to work out.”
“I am always running throughout the day in between buildings, or sometimes I will do pull-ups and rope climbs during the day to stay active,” he said.
“I do not like to walk anywhere, so I am always running. I guess I like being active,” Megquier said.
Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn is the Public Affairs Office NCOIC for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.