Race of the Ranks inspires competition, camaraderie on Team Fairchild

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Josh Biedebach
  • 66th Training Squadron
The stage was set, the music was on, and Col. Scott Greene, 336th Training Group commander, gave some opening remarks kicking off the first Race of the Ranks Relay. The Race of the Ranks Relay took place April 22 on the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape side base. The relay was a half mile loop around the squadron with runners working as a relay team, passing a baton between each other, completing a total of nine miles. Each group chose a baton that signified their group. Among the items were an axe hatchet, empty pill bottle, license plate and security forces beret. The four teams, with 15 runners on each, were comprised of male, female, enlisted, officers, civilian and volunteers. 

Participants from the 92nd Mission Support Group, 336th TRG, 92nd Operations Group and the 92nd Medical Group stretched and warmed up before the relay. Anticipation grew as the runners stared down their competition awaiting the start of the race. Many family members and coworkers lined the streets ready to cheer on the runners. There was some friendly banter before the race. Capt. Aaron Rittgers, who ran for the 92nd MSG team compared it to coming over to your rival's home field and trying to win. "This is like Rocky 4 all over again," Maj. John Fredland, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, racing for the 92nd MSG said. 

All the groups seemed confident that they would come out on top. Apart from the friendly banter, this relay was a chance for groups on base to come together and strengthen the mission of Team Fairchild, said Maj. Richard Elmore, who was running for the 92nd MDG. Some participants such as Airman John McConico, a runner for the 336th TRG, just came to have a good time and run for their group. Others, however, came out to win. Senior Airman Jennifer Clark, an air traffic controller, running for the 92nd OG, believed her team had a good chance to take first place. 

Among the runners were weekly runners, marathoners, and members of the Air Force triathlon team. Senior Master Sgt. Michael McCoy and Michael Burgquist both competed in Estonia and brought home the gold in the respective age groups last year. Sergeant Burgquist was also the USAF Athlete of the Year. "This event is attracting young, old, enlisted, officers and both sides of base to work together outside the office," Chief Master Sgt. Jon Stuhr, Superintendent of the 22nd Training Squadron said. 

The organizer of the event, Cherese McCoy, was most excited about everyone coming together to promote fitness. Ms. McCoy set up weekly runs in preparation for the event. Ms. McCoy, who will be leaving for Scott Air Force Base with her husband, Sergeant McCoy, a SERE specialist, is no stranger to organizing and promoting events. In addition to overseeing the SERE gym, she organized late-night runs, food drives, and, with the help of other members of Fairchild, donated more than a hundred homemade cards to troops overseas. Colonel Green commented that Cherese is a great motivator and organizer for the 336th TRG and will be missed. 

The SERE Chaplain, Maj. Kent Schmidt, who ran in the relay, provided refreshments for all who attendd to help with "nourishment and fellowship." Many runners enjoyed the event and looked forward to next year's, said Staff Sgt. Odin Arcos, from the 92nd MDG. Master Sgt. Matt Kubes, from the Security Forces Squadron, said he came to cheer on his team and he believes more people will turn out in the future. 

Regardless of rank or group, members worked together, high-fived and cheered runners across the finish line. Many of the groups finished the relay as a team. The top three finishers received trophies. The top three were the 336th TRG, 92nd MSG and 92nd MDG. "It was a total team effort, everyone did their part, plus we have a lot of great athletes out here," said Colonel Greene, commenting on the win.