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Military community participates in annual JBER Eco Challenge

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Military and community members sprinted across the starting line of the Eco Challenge here July 20. The Eco Challenge is an annual, multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Military members and dependants sprinted across the starting line of the Eco Challenge July 20. The Eco Challenge is an annual, multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cynthia Spalding)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Brittney Miller, a competitor in JBER's annual Eco Challenge, speeds through the bike event here July 20. Military and community members across the base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Brittney Miller, a competitor in JBER's annual Eco Challenge, speeds through the bike event July 20. Military members and dependents across base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cynthia Spalding)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Competitors in JBER's annual Eco Challenge hasten through the kayak event here July 20. Military and community members across the base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Competitors in JBER's annual Eco Challenge hasten through the kayak event July 20. The participants had to kayak half a mile as part of the competition. Military members and dependents across the base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Staff Sgt. Jaimie Haines, a material management specialist with the 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron, hikes the last of a four-event race here July 20. Military and community members across the base participated in the Eco Challenge, an annual, multi-sport challenge hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Staff Sgt. Jamie Haines, a material management specialist with the 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron, hikes the last event of a four-part race July 20. The challenge consisted of running four-and-a-half-mile miles, biking nine miles, kayaking a half mile and finishing up with a four mile hike with either a 25 or 35 pound pack. Military members and dependents across base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cynthia Spalding)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Senior Airman Ethan Brown with the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron finishes the last leg of a race here July 20, spurred on by Senior Airman Michael Hurt with the 3rd Maintenance Squadron who had already crossed the finish line. Military and community members across the base participated in the Eco Challenge, an annual, multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON Senior Airman Michael Hurt, who had already crossed the finish line, spurs on Senior Airman Ethan Brown during the last leg of the ECO Challenge July 20. The challenge consisted of running four-and-a-half-mile miles, biking nine miles, kayaking a half mile and finishing up with a four mile hike with either a 25 or 35 pound pack. Hurt is with the 3rd Maintenance Squadron and Brown is with the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cynthia Spalding)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Linda Neely, the aquatics and fitness manager at the Elmendorf Fitness Center, briefs competitors before the Eco Challenge here July 20. Military and community members across the base participated in this annual, multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Linda Neely, the aquatics and fitness manager at the Elmendorf Fitness Center, briefs competitors before the Eco Challenge July 20. All four of the challenge events started and finished at the Hillberg Ski Area. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Competitors in JBER's annual Eco Challenge study the event routes prior to start time here July 20. Military and community members across the base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Competitors in JBER's annual Eco Challenge study the event routes prior to start time July 20. Military members and dependents across the base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Individual competitors of JBER's four-sport competion here complete the biking and kayaking portions July 20, while the team competitors gear up for the race. Military and community members across the base participated in the Eco Challenge, an annual event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Individual competitors of JBER's four-sport competition complete the biking and kayaking portions, while the team competitors gear up for the race July 20. Military members and dependants across the base participated in the Eco Challenge, an annual event hosted by the base fitness centers. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Senior Airman Joel Graff, a cryptological linguist with the 381st Intelligence Squadron, races for the end of the running route here July 20 so his teammate and wife, Amra Graff, could start off on the biking portion. Military and community members across the base participated in the Eco Challenge, an annual, multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Senior Airman Joel Graff, races for the end of the running route so his teammate and wife, Amra Graff, could start off on the biking portion of the four-part ECO Challenge July 20. Military members and dependents across base participated in this multi-sport event hosted by the base fitness centers. Graff is a cryptological linguist with the 381st Intelligence Squadron. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Individual and team competitors from the Air Force and Army, both guardsmen and active-duty members, and dependents took part in the JBER fitness centers' fifth annual four-part, multi-sport competition, July 20.

The Eco Challenge's four events took place in the following order: running, biking, kayaking and hiking, with each event starting and ending in the Hillberg ski area.

Each participant had to complete one segment before beginning the next. First running four-and-a-half-mile miles, then biking nine miles, kayaking a half mile and finishing with a four-mile hike with either a 25- or 35-pound pack. Competitors said the course was challenging.

"I don't think there was a single event that didn't push me at some point," said Gayle Hoffmeister, wife of Army Lt. Col. Hoffmeister, 2nd Engineer Brigade. "It's always nice to know what you're made of." Hoffmeister was the fastest individual female finishing at 2:11.50. She received the first-place prize for individual female. Prizes were given for first and second place winners in the individual female, individual male and team categories.

The fastest individual male, and overall fastest time, went to air guardsman Staff Sgt. Jamie Haines, a material management specialist with the 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron. After completing the run and bike events in record time, Haines started and completed the kayak event before any of the other participants arrived at the lake. He accomplished the 18-mile course with a finishing time of 1:57.

As the individual racers were finishing their final events, the team challenge began the completion around 11 a.m. The teams repeated the same sequence of events, splitting the events. As soon as one member completed an event, the next member took off.

'Team Misfits,' an Army team consisting of Spc. Carson Baxter, Sgt. Isaac Sims, and Spc. Kenneth Straight with the 501st Infantry Regiment, finished in first place with a time of 2:18.

For a few of the teams, like team 'PB&J' who took second place, the competition was a family affair. PB&J consisted of Senior Airman Joel Graff, a cryptological linguist with the 381st Intelligence Squadron, who teamed-up with his wife, Amra Graff, sister, Brianna Graff and father, Gary Graff. Graff chose the team event to enjoy Alaska with his family during their visit here. He appreciated being a part of a team.

"I think it's more relaxing," Graff said. "You have other people you can look to for support."

Despite a flat tire and some overturned kayaks, racers were seen smiling, giving high-fives and cheering each other on. The course was designed to foster good-spirited competition in a different atmosphere than the gym, according to the 2012 Eco Challenge coordinator, Linda Neeley, the aquatics and fitness manager at the Elmendorf Fitness Center.

"I find it to be a really interesting event you don't typically see," Neely said. "Changing it up is always a great thing. We live in such a beautiful state; they get so much scenery on these trails."

The competition is open to anyone with base access. It is put on by the Elmendorf Fitness Center and supported by the Fort Richardson Buckner Fitness Center.
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