In Honor of Army Sgt. First Class David Metzger

This training session is dedicated to Army Sgt First Class David Metzger 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR)  who lost his life in 2009. This training session included a 3.5 mile hike with a 35lb weight – 1 hour in duration. It was late in 2004 that I  first  heard of the Watertribe. I decided to enter the 2005 Ultra Marathon (67 mile) race to get a feel for what these expedition kayak/canoe races were all about. The Ultra Marathon is held at the same time as the Everglades Challenge. In fact the finish line for the Ultra Marathon is the first checkpoint for the Everglades Challenge. Driving over to the start I figured most of the race contestants would be in their early to late thirties, all male ( hey you know you need lots of testosterone to do something so dangers), with mostly military backgrounds , (the major in special operations), a few adventure racers and triathletes. As I walked the starting line that early morning I was shocked to find that my initial thoughts were not even close to the reality of the contestants I encountered. Several years have now passed with more folks entering these races. Yet, today when you walk the starting line you will observe some of the same traits that I observe years ago. Instead of most of the contestants being in their early to late thirties you will see an age span from the early twenties, there was one year where a young teenager did the event, to very very mature  60-70 years of age ( not going to say old because I am not a spring chicken myself). Instead of seeing an all male field you will see several females who are the most pleasant, gracious, I will severely kick you rear end and smile while doing it, females you will ever come across. Instead of mostly military special operations backgrounds you will find a very broad background of folks. From professional to blue-collar, from still working to retired, from corporate to non-profit, to self-employed, and counter to the believe by non Watertribers that the contestant are just not right in the head, an extremely bright group with several having upper level college graduate degrees. Thus the question  “What is the common trait of Watertribes that allows them to not only complete an extremely challenging event but want to come back for more ?”. When I was much younger and actively competing in triathlons I learned that you cannot judge someone’s physical abilities by the outside. I completed too many races where I finished looking at the back of someone I had judge as an extreme couch potato who most likely would not finish the swim leg. From my prospective, you do have to have a good physical conditioning base to finish one of these events, but that is not the most critical element. The most critical element is something that is not something you can detect by looking at someone physical statue, or their age, or their profession, or a their sex.  I believe that we all are blessed with different levels of mental toughness as we are all blessed with different levels of physical abilities. I also believe that as we can increase our physical abilities through training we can also increase our mental toughness through training. So how am I increasing my mental toughness? From my prospective there are four components of mental toughness that I am attempting to increase in preparation for the UFC. I plan on exploring these in a future post. Watertribers test their mental toughness by attempting to completed one of the many endurance races in the country. For others they don’t have to sign up for a race to have their mental toughness tested. For Army Sgt. First Class Metzger’s family that included a son named Grant, that test came in the fact that he was no longer there for them. A donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation will help provide a college education to Grant.  Please consider a donation to reduce the challenge the Metzger’s family has been given.