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Combine tests strength, stamina

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Alex Bridges/Daily Jane Kasoff, 35, of Fairfax, scales down an obstacle at the Civilian Military Combine held Saturday at Bryce Resort in Basye.

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Jane Kasoff, 35, of Fairfax, D. Sullivan, 36, of Maryland, and James Storms, 26, of Winchester, climb out of a flooded culvert during the the endurance portion of the event. Alex Bridges/Daily

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Meredith Hamsher, 29, of Washington, finishes the endurance portion of the Civilian Military Combine held Saturday at Bryce Resort in Basye. Alex Bridges/Daily

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

BASYE -- Meredith Hamsher says she never finished last in a race until Saturday's Civilian Military Combine at Bryce Resort.

"It definitely was a challenge that I was not prepared for," Hamsher, 29, of Washington, D.C., said surrounded by fellow competitors who cheered her on through the finish line.

Bryce Resort hosted the Civilian Military Combine for the first time. Many resort workers volunteered to help put on the competitive event. At least one worker participated in the event.

Ashley Keffer received kudos after she ran through the finish line. Keffer, 23, works at the resort and lives nearby.

"I completed every obstacle; that was my goal," Keffer said, adding that she entered the competition "just to push myself and represent the resort."

Bryce Resort General Manager Rob Schwartz lauded dozens of local Lions Club who volunteered to help put on the competition. The Lions Club chapter received some of the proceeds of the sales from the event.

The Civilian Military Combine began with tests of strength. Competitors then took to the endurance course which featured numerous obstacles -- running through a creek, crawling under barbed wire through mud, climbing up embankments by rope, scaling military-style walls and ducking through a storm drain filled with water.

Matt Keller, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., said he started the Civilian Military Combine as a way to promote fitness and healthy living as well as to help charities.

Cody Hibbard may not describe the course as fun. The 19-year-old freshman attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis dislocated his right shoulder at the beginning of the obstacle/endurance portion of the competition but completed the course using his other arm. Workers on site helped Hibbard and rescue personnel on scene put his arm and shoulder in a sling.

Hibbard said he would probably feel better in a few days once his shoulder healed.

Soledad Minera, 38, originally from Guatemala and now living in Warrenton, took the course for the first time. Ordinarily she runs for exercise. The combine added elements of strength and endurance.

"It's definitely harder," Minera said.

The combination of endurance and strength can make a difference in who comes out on top, according to the event's Rob Colantuoni. At the last competition the top male contestant overall did not finish first in the endurance event.

"We're trying to measure overall fitness," Colantuoni said.

Juliet Burgh, 23, and Mackie Root, 30, of Philadelphia, competed at the first Civilian Military Combine held last year at Camelback Mountain Resort in the Poconos. Root said they opted to try a different course this time.

"Traveling for a race is fun," Burgh said.

Root and Burgh, covered in mud, admitted the Bryce course posed a challenge.

"It was tough," Root said.

"It was a lot of fun," Burgh said. "Gorgeous, perfect weather today. I mean we just tried to enjoy it. Like we tried to stop and just breath and smile."

A group of colleagues who work for an orthopedic supply firm in Northern Virginia finished the course in the last heat.

"We were excited for a challenge so we banded together," said Jane Kasoff, 35, of Fairfax, who also has a weekend home at the resort.

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