Last month, United States Army Europe and Africa conducted the first annual Ready and Resilient 4x4x48 Challenge. Over 70 participants ran, walked, or rucked four miles every four hours for forty-eight hours, with 35 participants completing all twelve legs of the challenge throughout the month of April. Participants met the challenge from all over Europe and the United States.
Led by Brig. Gen. Jed J. Schaertl, Deputy Commanding General for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs, the challenge could be completed alone or at one of the socially distant group events.
“The USAREUR-AF 4x4x48 Challenge is intended to stress an individual in a way that goes beyond a singular, short duration event,” Schaertl says. “The 48 miles within 48 hours highlights the many aspects of resiliency and provides an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and what we are capable of.”
The challenge was not only meant to test the mental and physical resiliency of the participants, but also to educate and connect them with installation resources that relate to the five pillars of strength and wellness: physical, mental, spiritual, social, and family.
“Resiliency gets us through tough times. It allows us to pick ourselves up and overcome obstacles that we face in life and continue to achieve our goals both professionally and personally. Some of those are much tougher than a 4x4x48 Challenge,” says Schaertl, demonstrating the connection between the 4x4x48 and resiliency.
Each leg of the challenge was dedicated to a different pillar of resiliency and highlighted specific programs. The socially distant meet-up locations also correlated to the segment’s theme, tying together the concepts of resiliency in the force.
Soldiers, family members, and civilians from across Europe and the United States recorded the videos to educate and highlight the importance of incorporating resiliency into daily life. For the mental aspects of the challenge, the Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance Center in Vicenza Italy posted Facebook videos about resiliency skills.
30th Medical Brigade registered dietician, Capt. Samantha Rigby, gave tips on caffeine intake, supplement usage, hydration, and proper nutrition for both pushing through the challenge and in everyday workouts.
In one of her videos, Capt. Rigby says, “one of the most important aspects of achieving and maintaining your physical fitness, both for this 4x4x48, as well as in your general health and well-being is what you eat. What you eat can set you on a path to success.”
She also helps to link viewers with the various programs available to Department of Defense I.D. holders stationed in Europe.
The United States Army Garrison Benelux Army Community Service chief, United States Army Garrison Wiesbaden Chaplain, and USAREUR-AF Sponsorship program manager also contributed content to link participants with installation resources and programs.
“Even if you feel like you are right at the edge of your limits, remember your spiritual strength, that part of you that gives you hope and strength and meaning in life,” says Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Troy Morken, demonstrating that spiritual strength doesn’t always have to mean religion. Rather, it’s more than that: it’s about finding those things that motivate and drive us to be better.
Each segment theme and group meet up location was carefully selected to ensure the event was holistic and addressed resources for family members, civilians, retirees, and Soldiers stationed here in Europe, because the Army is only as strong as its people.
Brig. Gen. Schaertl closed out the twelfth leg of the challenge by thanking everyone involved.
“I cannot express enough my thanks that you signed up,” he said, “And that you’re willing to do it, that you’re willing to push yourself to try to do something different. So on behalf of myself and everyone in the US Army Europe and Africa command team thank you for getting out there and getting after it. And we’re all stronger together.”
Maybe you missed the challenge and wanted to participate? Don’t worry; there will be another one in the fall coming to an installation near you. Are you ready to accept the challenge?