I Hope That Smell is Team Spirit: NIU Army ROTC Conquers the Spartan Race
By CDT Taylor Hartsough
(Above: MSG Antonitus Knight and Senior Cadet Taylor Hartsough leap over a pit of fire while the rest of the Huskie Battalion Spartan Sprint team follows in hot pursuit. The obstacle was one of 15 physical challenges placed over the 5 mile race route.)
“AROO!” cry 150 Spartans. “AROO!” 150 fists thrust into the air. “AROO!” 300 feet pound the dirt. “HOOAH!” yell 10 NIU Army Cadets and their Cadre as they heft a stretcher loaded with one of their comrades across the starting line of the 2013 Indiana Spartan Sprint- a 5.2 mile obstacle course winding through steep hills, muddy trenches, cold water, and fire.
NIU students and Cadets Alexander Alderson, Alexander Alvey, Katherine Brenneman, Taylor Hartsough, Alexander Noll, Shanell Walter, Christopher Wiedmaier; and their Cadre, LTC David Dosier and MSG Antonitus Knight, not only undertook this challenge, but shattered the already high Spartan standards in typical Huskie fashion.
The team traversed 15 obstacles over the course of the 5.2 mile course while lugging a stretcher carrying a load between 120 and 260 pounds, depending on the weight of its occupant. These obstacles, which included a rope climb, a low crawl uphill under barbed wire, a net climb, a swim across a local stream, and a leap across a pit of fire, were intimidating in their own right. With the added challenge of a stretcher, the task became almost Herculean. Thus, these Huskies took it upon themselves to carry, drag, and hoist twice the weight expected of them by the Spartan Race.
While the Spartan Race is a fun, team building physical challenge for any participant, it is also a manifestation of many of the tenets of the Soldier’s Creed that all members of the United States Army live by. “I am a warrior and a member of a team.” A variety of personal strengths and weaknesses necessitated cooperation to overcome the more challenging obstacles on the course. Whether this involved pushing, pulling, carrying, or just motivating tired teammates, the team dynamic was crucial to completing the course. “I will never accept defeat. I will never quit… I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough…”
As easy as pushing a sled with a grown man strapped to it up a steep hill of thick mud and safety pins under barbed wire may sound, the weak little voice in everyone’s head telling them to quit the obstacle and pay for the failure with burpees was there. Challenges such as this in the Spartan Race are a test of one’s ability to stifle that voice of weakness and doubt and drive on, and the NIU ROTC team passed that test to earn the coveted title, “SPARTAN TOUGH”, with a CASEVAC(Casualty Evaluation) twist.