Students, community compete to raise thousans foor Sgt. Robertson Memorial Scholarship fund
| Kelsea Renz managing editor |
Shin-deep mud, high winds, and intense heat were just the minor challenges that participants faced at the third annual Gorilla Dash, held Saturday, April 12.
The race, a tough mudder similar to the Warrior Dash, was held to raise funds for the Sgt. Robertson Memorial Scholarship, named for former ROTC instrucotr Sgt. Forrest Robertson, who was killed in action in early November.
“This was something Sgt. Rob was passionate about,” said John Fatkin, senior in history. “I wanted him to be able to look down and be proud to see us doing something that he was really into, something that he appreciated and came up with on his own.”
This year’s course has been in the making since around Christmas, with Fatkin heading the project.
“I did not want to be the person who let this drop and see this fail while I’m at this university,” he said. “It’s a big thing, a big event, and I’m kinda glad it’s done so I can breathe.”
Fatkin did not plan the event alone, however. He enlisted help from several of the cadets, with his younger brother being one of the most involved.
“I just tried to help out in any way possible, and it really helped me out a lot to see the process up close,” said Jacob Fatkin, sophomore in accounting. “I think it was a big help in my career as a cadet, because I’m gonna be in his shoes in two years in leadership positions.”
The brothers, along with about five other cadets, set up the course on the old SAE Baja course, which is where the cadets do many of their training exercises.
“We know this area pretty well and were fortunate that the university was generous enough to let us use it,” John said. “And because we had a small budget, basically what we had to do was use the terrain to our advantage.”
The finished 5K course had obstacles scattered throughout that included a tire flip, five low crawls, numerous stair steps, a maze and five water obstacles.
“Anything out here was generally flat, so the hills weren’t something we could really use, but creeks, ponds and those small little ponds that are just muddy and hard to get through we could,” John said. “We just thought, ‘okay what would be the hardest thing to run through?’”
To test the course, the cadets had a run-through the morning before the event.
“I was making sure everyone was getting through the course and knew where they needed to go and making sure it all ran smoothly,” Jacob said. “After that, we took what we learned from that Friday run and added a little bit to the course to make it less confusing and a little more fun.”
44 teams raced the course, with an average time of 23:59, and a winning time of 17:13 by an individual runner with the team name of BMAC. Many of those who raced were area residents.
“We actually had the older crowd mainly come in the morning, and they smoked the course,” John said. “They were some of the best times.”
Overall, the event raised approximately $2,000 for the scholarship fund, which will be used to give a scholarship on Friday, April 25, to a qualifying cadet.
“There were a lot of community people,” said John. “They really came together and supported us so my hat’s off to the community for supporting us and supporting Sgt. Rob.”