Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Cesar Duran fires the starter pistol to begin the Commanders Relay Race, Aug. 5. The relay was the first of its kind on Fort Jackson and organizers deemed it a success. (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)

Commander’s relay a hit with Jackson units, community

By Robert Timmons, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Running on Fort Jackson is usually associated with drill sergeants calling cadence as a platoon of trainees run in step. Or even a quarterly 5K fun run/walk put on by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

But a relay race?

Yes, Fort Jackson held a relay race at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, Aug. 5 as part of its commander’s cup competition program.

The Commander’s Relay Race “is such a fun and different event than what we typically offer here on Fort Jackson,” said Pam Long, a fitness programmer with Jackson’s DFMWR. “With such a beautiful track over at the Drill Sergeant Academy, we were inspired to bring more track and field type events with the Commander‘s Relay Race being a great start.”

The race was the first of its kind here at Fort Jackson, Long said. “It was sort of groundbreaking. No one had done it before, which made it a most exciting event because it was new.”

“The relay race was a bit more head-to-head compared to other races on Fort Jackson,” said Sgt. 1st Class Paris Bledsoe, with the Drill Sergeant Academy, after the race. “It provided a small enough window of performance to level the playing field, unlike the Army Ten-Miler or a 5k which bodes well for a more cardiovascular fit person.”

The Fort Jackson commanders cup is a program where units compete against each other in a variety of event to be crowned the top unit on post. It builds friendly rivalries between units and esprit de corps.

The desire to compete for some was reminiscent of their days back in school.

“It all started with a bit of friendly competition banter,” said Bledsoe about why his team joined the race. “A couple of previous track runners vying to determine who still had glory from our high school days.”

The race was a hit and will return next year.

“The best part was hands down the back-and-forth chatter amongst teams,” Bledsoe said. “It was great camaraderie amongst teams, and it provided an opportunity for Drill Sergeant Academy cadre to engage in competitive banter with the drill sergeant candidates.

“We are exploring other track and field events such as racing, and huddles to offer new and hopefully exciting events for Soldiers, and our overall Fort Jackson Community,” Long said.

Bledsoe said the MWR team deserved kudos for setting up the race.

“I applaud the MWR team for thinking outside the box with this relay race,” he said.