ORONO, Maine — Just after noon on Saturday more than 40 teams of four set out to compete in a test that would push them physically and mentally.
The fifth annual 1st Lt. James R. Zimmerman Memorial Fitness Challenge at the University of Maine campus in Orono had teams competing through a six-plus mile course of Marine Corps-like tasks.
Teams first faced a 3-mile team pack run where a weighted pack was passed around throughout the team around 12 laps of the university mall. After completing the run, teams made their way behind the baseball field to complete a variety of combat fitness movements including buddy carries, bear crawls and crab walks. Then it was off into the woods for a 3-mile run with five fitness stations ranging from burpees to team pushups. Once out of the woods, the teams’ upper bodies were tested with pullups, situps, pushups and dips. Once over 700 movements were made, teams made their way back toward the start to crawl through a mud pit toward the finish.
The Zimmerman Memorial Fitness Challenge was established in 2011 to honor and remember 1st Lt. James R. Zimmerman who was killed by small arms fire while leading his Marines in Afghanistan in 2010. Zimmerman, a Houlton native, graduated from UMaine’s Navy ROTC in 2008 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Indoor track is not an easy assignment for me. The lighting is usually awful and not abundant. All the events overlap each other. I come with a list of students to shoot from the sports desk but they always seem to be competing at once, in different events at opposite ends of the building.
And wow, do they move fast.
When shooting the 55 meter hurdles I’ve developed a routine. I find the student I’m looking for, note their lane, pick a hurdle and prefocus. Then I wait, one eye open, one squinted, saying a silent prayer to the spirit of Barton Silverman.
On Monday, the light was as bad as ever at the Class B Finals in Lewiston. I had the ISO on my camera cranked up to 6400 so I could squeeze something like f2.8 at a 500th of a second out of it. That gave me a razor thin depth of field and just enough stopping power freeze the runner. My camera doesn’t shoot fast, either. I would get one chance at one frame where Lauren Stoops would be in the focus range.
Bang went the starter’s pistol. I heard the tramp of sneakers running at my right ear and the clank of knees on hurdles. I tried not to blink.
I got it. It felt good. I didn’t notice the other runner on the ground until later. It added a bit of drama to the frame. I wish her left hand was in the shot, but I’ll take what I can get with indoor track.