Designed to test a soldier’s physical endurance, the Bushman competition of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment (2 RCR) stands apart from similar competitions because unlike Mountain Man or Ironman, Bushman is a team competition completed in pairs.
This year, 99 teams took part in Bushman, which has been running at CFB Gagetown for nearly a decade.
“The purpose is to definitely test the physical fitness of our soldiers, but it’s also to foster team spirit and team cohesion,” said Capt. Valerie Touchette-Mosley, organizer, and competitor in this year’s Bushman.
Held this year on Aug. 17, the day started out bright and early for competitors. The unit’s commanding officer and the regimental sergeant major begin the race two hours prior to the rest of the competitors in order to greet the rest of the soldiers at the finish line.
The rest of Bushman’s participants followed suite at 7 a.m.
Competitors race through the course while wearing a 40 lb ruck sack. They start out with a 30 km ruck sack march, followed by a 1.5 km portage, then an approximately 9 km paddle around Oromocto Island and then a final 3.5 km foot race to the finish line.
With water levels low on the Saint John River this year, causing sand bars to build around the river, Bushman was an extra challenge to participants this year.
“Quite a few times people ended up capsizing. Luckily, it was shallow enough water that they could stand up as soon as they tipped the canoe. So, that did add more effort, more time and it was definitely more of a gut test or challenge to the teams,” recalled Touchette-Mosley.
The overall winners were team Booze Cruise, comprised of Sgt Edison and MCpl Stewart. The top mixed gender team was Tech Svcs 1, Cpl Shirley and MCpl Gauthier; and the top all female gender team was The Wives, WO Leblanc and D. Leblanc.
Touchette-Mosley and her partner placed second in the mix time category and 15th overall.
For the entire base, and specifically for 2 RCR, Bushman is a unique competition that everyone looks forward to every year.
“It’s a competition, and military personnel have a tendency to be fairly competitive. So, there’s that camaraderie with your partner and to beat any personal bests or to try to win your category. It motivates a lot of people,” said Touchette-Mosley.