Soldiers from across Canada were pushed to their mental and physical limits earlier this month during the 35th annual 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Iron Warrior.
Previously called the Iron Man, more than 400 competitors took the trails and waterways around the garrison during two days of competition from Thursday, Sept. 6 to Friday, Sept. 7. Coming across the finish line with a time of five hours, 38 minutes and 26 seconds, Master Cpl. Shane Stewart, from 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, claimed the top male and defended his title. He won the event last year. Like many in the Iron Warrior, Stewart takes the race so seriously that he began training last November.
“I’m always training, like endurance running and stuff so I’m never not in shape for something like this,” said Master Cpl. Stewart.
The top female finisher was Lieut. Avery Burke, from the Royal Canadian Dragoons, who finished in seven hours, 18 minutes and 32 seconds. This was the officer’s first Iron Warrior. While admitting to getting tired early on in the race, she said she got her second wind as the sun came up.
“A bunch of people passed me then about kilometre 15 I just kept passing people,” noted Lieut. Burke. “The light started to come out so I could actually focus on one person, and leap ahead of them. It was good.”
The Iron Warrior is truly a test of endurance and will power. With the firing of a 105-millimetre artillery howitzer, the competitors set off at 4 a.m. Over the next number of hours, these Iron Warriors met a series of challenges along the way. After concluding a 32-kilometre run/march through the Petawawa training area, they threw 52-pound kevlar canoes on their backs and marched for another four kilometres. Reaching the Ottawa River at Clement Point, the tired racers then paddled downstream for another eight kilometres until pulling into shore at Jubilee Lodge. Many were relieved to reach shore and painfully shuffle the last six kilometres to the finish line at Dundonald Hall where family and friends cheered them on to the end.
Started in 1983, the Petawawa Iron Warrior encourages individual soldiers and the units within 2 CMBG to challenge themselves in order to promote a culture of physical robustness and mental resilience within the military community. In recent years, an invitation has been extended to include units from across Ontario and Canada with the Iron Warrior growing to a two-day event.
Finishing second in the male category on the second day of competition was Cpl. Thomas Demandt (5:54:18) while third place was Maj. Kane Carr (6:10:19). Rounding out the top female finishers was Pte. Elissa Cameron (7:22:51) and Capt. Amanda Morrison (7:30:44). The top female master was Master Warrant Officer Nicole Barrett (7:56:37). The top male master was civilian Jeff White with a time of 6:29:34.
On the first day, Maj. Jesse Knockleby, a male master, took the top spot with a time of 5:41:27. Second in the male category was Capt. Harry Morrison (5:51:08), followed by Capt. Raphael Wiesenberg (6:09:47). The top female finisher was Sgt. Erin Carter with a time of 8:10:25. She was followed by Sgt. Marie-Christine Boisvert (8:47:21) and Cpl. Diana Farnand with a time of 9:17:18). Sgt. Helen Hawes was the top female master at 8:53:26.
On day one, Maj. Jesse Knockleby, a male master, took top spot with a time of 5:41:27.3. Next up in the male category was Capt. Harry Morrison with a time of 5:51:08.9 followed by Capt. Raphael Wiesenberg at 6:09:47.9 and Maj. Matt Cossaboom at 6:12:01.5. The top female finisher on day one was Sgt. Erin Carter with a time of 8:10:25.1. She was followed by Sgt. Marie-Christine Boisvert at 8:47:21.8 and third was Cpl. Diana Farnand with a time of 9:17:18.8. Sgt. Helen Hawes was the top female master at 8:53:26.9.
The top three teams on day one were RMC with an average time of 6:40:09.4, Tech Svc with an average time of 7:21:30.2 and 33 Svc Bn with an average time of 7:38:37.20.
O’Rourke said 198 competitors tested their mettle on Thursday, with 211 taking to the course on Friday.
The event also serves as a fundraiser for Garrison Petawawa’s United Way campaign. Iron Warrior raised $2,500 for the cause this year.