NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Soldiers at Joint Base Langley-Eustis spent Sunday sprinting, scaling and shooting.
The men and women warriors were competing in the Mammoth Global Partners Military Battle Challenge, which continues a week full of events leading up to Memorial Day.
Donna Fontes, Director at 733d Force Support Division MWR said, "This whole week is about Remembering the Fallen. We have Commander's Cup which is softball and volleyball and some gaming tournaments going on. Well have a retreat ceremony, we have the military battle challenge going on. It's also important for us to recognize our Gold Star families."
Due to COVID-19, this is the first time in more than year that soldier's could come together in a large group for a little friendly competition.
The morale boost that it offers is the reason Commanding General of the U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine Command Paul Funk said he wouldn't miss it.
"I think people are excited to get back outside and share in life together," he said. "It's very important I think that the nation sees its military moving back out and getting ready to get after this and we're ready all the time, anywhere."
In some 90-degree heat, with a rifle in hand and 20lb vest on their chest, the men and women tested their abilities with military-specific obstacles.
Running side-by-side the three minutes or less course featured a two-story cargo net/ tower climb, laser marksmanship tasks, and dragging a 180-lb "Battle Buddy" across the finish line to stop the clock.
Lee Stoddard, Specialist in the Washington Army National Guard, said, "In a combat environment you never know where you're going to be or what the next task is going to be. Just everything you can see [involved in this course had] a purpose served around it."
As of Sunday morning, Jackson Vallone was course champion. He finished in 1:42, which secured him bragging rights and $500.
When News 3 asked what he was going to spend his money on he said with a laugh, "hopefully save it and not spend it on all the food here."
The Military Battle Challenge was also designed to promote and support lifelong military "Health and Holistic Fitness" - including physical wellness, conditioning and healthy nutrition.
Even with the endorphins flowing, the meaning behind the competition was felt by everyone.
Heading into Memorial Day Commanding General Funk said, "Remember that freedom isn't free and these sacrifices are made by men and women everyday and that's what this means. That's what's important."