UI Veterans Association Warrior Challenge grows in second year


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Only 2 percent of University of Iowa students are veterans. But on March 30, 375 participants showed their support for the military during the UI Veterans Association Warrior Challenge.

“My father is a military veteran, and it’s been a military childhood,” said volunteer and UI student Ashley Wiser. “The University of Iowa and the state of Iowa doesn’t have many military bases, so it’s really nice to find a community within the veterans association.”

The Warrior Challenge is an event coordinated by the UI Veteran’s Association. This is the second year the event has been held, and race director and association Vice President Michael Considine said he was proud of the results.

“We didn’t want to do just a 5K, we wanted to create a warrior challenge that has different stuff that you do in training for the military,” the current Air National Guard member said. “That’s my favorite part of it — [the Warrior Challenge] brings civilians, active members, and veterans together and facilitates a place where they can all share their stories.”

The sound of thudding feet and tires rang out in the UI Recreation Building on the morning of March 30 as people of all ages and skill levels took part in the activities. Participants could either run a 5K or enter in groups of four in the “Warrior Challenge,” which consisted of tire flipping and an obstacle course.

Last year, the challenge had a stone carry instead of the obstacle course, and the event took place outside on the recreation fields. Considine said the Warrior Challenge will take place again next year on the last weekend in March.

The Warrior Challenge does not aim to precisely mimic a typical day in the military, Wiser said, but the event does help give people a better understanding of the struggles veterans endure.

“We’d like to make it more accurate to the fitness challenges [done in the military],” she said. “I would say fitness is a big thing in the military, and we’d like to uphold that, and also teamwork.”

Other participants in the event enjoyed the exercise the challenge held as well as the bigger meaning to the day.

“Five of us had come from St. Louis to do the 5K,” Andrea Lauer-Mummau said. “We want to do the Warrior Challenge next year. We run marathons and half marathons, and we thought it would be fun for Easter weekend to visit our family [in Iowa City]. Running is fun; it brings family together. And my sister, who’s in the Navy, just retired from the Navy after 22 years, and my niece is just entering it, so we have that connection as well.”

Some of the participants took a more lighthearted approach.

“There are four of us from the fraternity, and it’s a lot more strenuous but a lot more fun than I thought it’d be,” said Pi Alpha Phi member Tony Tran. “It’s sort of a brotherhood event to challenge you mentally and physically, which is kind of ironic, since none of us have really trained [for the challenge].”

A few teams in the challenge decided to join to honor loved ones who have passed away.

“We originally started as myself and two other people [participating in the event],” Knoxville resident Aaron Fuller said. “But we wanted to honor the 126 officers killed in the line of duty last year. There are about 40 of us this year on Team Pig. It’s important to honor the officers, because you don’t want their lives to be lost without honoring them or remembering what they did.”

What many participants agreed on is the main goal of the event: honoring veterans.

“My dad is [in the Army],” 13-year-old volunteer Sandra Wiser said. “I’m proud of him, but it’s also kind of difficult because he’s always away or working. It’s important to remember them because they’re willing to risk their lives for our country, and they’re not only willing to risk their lives but also their families, who are also affected.”

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