2010 - EPISODE 10:
Rangers must run an unknown distance while carrying an M4. Team members must stay within 1 meter of each other at all times.
Sergeant First Class William Greenwood: Pretty much everybody in the Ranger community wants to be the best and win everything they do.
Fort Benning, Georgia. Day 3. The Final Buddy Run.
Three days, a battle of attrition, smothered by the elements, exhausted by stress, and still, they soldier on. They’re finally, mercifully, at the last event. But many of the Rangers are already looking to next year.
Sergeant First Class Chad Stackpole: It’s a fever. Once you do this competition and until you win it and know what it feels like to win it, it’s one of those things that they really want to push to, and even though everyone says, just to finish it is amazing in itself, winning it is ten times better and that’s what everyone strives for. That’s why you see teams come back year after year or individuals come back with new partners year after year after year.
Greenwood: Feels pretty good, compared to last year. Watching it from the spectator side, when everybody crosses the finish line, it was kind of disheartening. This year I get to cross it myself, so pretty excited about that.
MSG Joshua King: As long as I can find somebody that wants to do it with me, I’ll do it again. I’m looking forward to it.
Stackpole: I guarantee you, you’ll see these names again.
TCS: Execute an unknown distance Buddy Team Run while carrying an M4. Team members must stay within one meter of each other at all times. Fastest time wins. The Final Buddy Run is 2.2 miles long and includes Cardiac Hill. The Best Ranger competitors do not have this information.
Weary, but unvanquished, the remaining competitors assemble for the final event. Knowing the finish is in sight and their friends and family await them gives an appreciated burst of adrenaline, of pride. These are among the few that finish Best Ranger, a unique and privileged minority in the Armed Services and a chance for one team to achieve Ranger glory.
Team 21, Sergeants Collins and Malchow, have come on strong, and through all the challenges, always strive to do their best.
Sergeant Michael Malchow: My partner, Sergeant Collins, and I – you know the triumph, this is the final culmination, final event. We’re all done, you know, we did our best, you know, made the most of what we were dealt and you get across that finish line and it’s a pretty big accomplishment to finish with somebody. You develop a deeper bond with somebody and a really great friendship. It’s an honor, you know, I’ve done it two years in a row and was able to complete. I just try to push other Rangers to take the same path and urge them to compete. It’s worth it in the end, and you’ll be one amongst a few.
Sergeant Billings and Staff Sergeant Mirador, Team 23, gained ground in the water events. Because he is a Ranger, Sergeant Billings is already looking to improve for next year.
Sergeant Jeremy Billings: Going through that last event is, I will finish strong and show my family and loved ones and friends that I am still a Best Ranger competitor and will finish, and going through that run, in my head, the only thing I think about is what I did wrong and what I’m going to do next time to fix the problem.
Sergeants First Class Greenwood and McKinney represent the 75th Ranger Regiment. Neither have finished a Best Ranger Competition. They’re eager to complete the mission, the first for both of them.
Greenwood: There was still the doubt in my mind, on that last event, that either myself or my partner could have gone down as a heat casualty because it was so hot and everybody was so exhausted from the three previous days that I was just telling myself and telling my partner to just make it across that finishing line the best we can just so we can, you know, finish the competition.
MG Michael Ferriter: This is it. They’ll never quit. They’re at the end of 60 hours of hard work. Still strong, still smiling and motivated, determined to finish, and they’re the best of the best as they come by here. Look in their eyes, they’re looking for, what next can they do? It’s awesome.
As the finish line comes into sight, Master Sergeants Turk and Ross, Team 6, are out in front, as they have been since the very first event, leading the way.
MSG Eric Turk: We were in the lead going into the Buddy Run and we didn’t know how far our lead was in front of the next team. You just want to give your all in every event.
MSG Eric Ross: It’s the Best Ranger Competition. People are here to see Rangers giving it their all, giving it 100%. The last Buddy Run, Eric definitely brought the “then some.”
Turk: To come around the corner and to hear the crowd cheering as loudly as they were, it was just a really great feeling to know that not only did we win that event, but that was pretty much – it sealed the deal for the entire competition. So your heart really swells with a lot of pride as you come across that finishing line.
Ross: It’s quite a great feeling, I mean it’s the homestretch, you see friends, family out there in the crowd. You know, it’s been a tough few days of competition. Cross that line, seal the deal. All in all it was a great feeling.
Captain Aaron Chonko: Being a member of the Ranger community made me a better person. It gave me the opportunity to set an example for others, to strive for something more, like the Ranger tab.
Billings: For me to be a Ranger is someone that is motivated to do more things with his hands and mind of that than anyone else can imagine possible.
Malchow: You go into Ranger school with pretty much a blank slate. They start to put the basics into you, and it lets you know who you are as a person, and pushes you to the extremes, puts you in a stressful environment in order to come out on top and lead.
Captain Jeremy Shute: As soon as I turned that corner and saw that banner, at that second it hit me, and it was an emotion I can almost not describe. All of the crowd there cheering us on, it didn’t matter what we’d done to our bodies for the past previous days, I didn’t feel anything except for seeing that finishing line, looking at my partner and knowing that together, we probably accomplished one of the greatest feats in our military career.
Team 6, winners of the 2010 Best Ranger Competition, and next year:
Turk: We both have every intent and desire to come back and have a repeat performance.
Ross: This year, we were good; I think we could come back and be great.
Stackpole: If you think you have what it takes, then come on down. We’ll push your mind and body further than you ever thought it could go. Rangers lead the way.
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