My Civilian Military Combine Experience


The following is a Team LIVESTRONG story from LIVESTRONG staffer and Civilian Military Combine participant Athan Schindler. There are many events you can take part in with Team LIVESTRONG. Go to our website to learn more about the run, walk, ride and tri events.

This past weekend I participated in the Civilian Military Combine as a member of Team LIVESTRONG. Looking back on the event, it was almost a spiritual experience. First of all, it was one of the most difficult physical challenges that I?ve ever experienced. Let me give that statement some context ? I?m an combat veteran and an Airborne Ranger, I?ve competed in the Best Ranger competition, I was a boxer, I?ve run 2 marathons, I?ve played semi-professional football, and participated many other physically demanding events. The Civilian Military Combine was up there with the hardest things I?ve ever done.

I think it was around mile 4 of 7 when I found myself standing at the bottom of the seemingly endless slope of the mountain (which was my third time having to go back up to the top), watching the people ahead of me crawling up on their hands and knees, when I was confronted with the reality of what I still had ahead of me. I had already completed 4 maximum effort Crossfit lifts, run 3+ miles up and down the slopes of a ski resort, and completed 3 physically demanding obstacles. For a split second, I thought about quitting. I stood there hanging my head low, hands on my hips, and gasping for the little oxygen available at that altitude ? generally feeling sorry for myself. At that point, I noticed the names I had written on my body and one in particular stood out, ?Pops?. The reason I was even in this race hit me like a runaway train. You see, that day was not about me. It was not about any glory that I might experience if I won ? or even by finishing. I was there for bigger reason. In my mind, I was representing and bringing awareness to every person ever affected by cancer. I got involved with LIVESTRONG long ago because my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer and my entire life had changed forever. My family and I were in the fight of our lives and I knew that millions of other people around the world were also in the same fight. How could I not do something about it ? be a part of change? My dad lost his fight, but there were millions to be won.

Now I found myself in this race almost feeling guilty for even thinking that I couldn?t do it. These words immediately came to mind, ?You can?t quit, because they never did.? All of the sudden my spirit was revived. My spirit refreshed my body. My body and my spirit ? even more, my cause – carried me across that finish line. Did I still get tired? You better believe it. Did I have to stop and rest? Several times. But, not once more did I question if I could do it or even think about quitting. How could I when, at that moment, I was the ambassador for all the people in the world fighting cancer and in the REAL fight of their lives?


  1. Great post! This event was fairly close to me,but knew I was no way able to do it (stll recovering from bike accident). But your words ring so true about needing to do something after a loved one gets such a severe diagnosis. I am in same boat, and now can do 100 mile bike rides, And support LiveStrong. Thanks for a great recap of the event.

  2. Michael says:

    Brother…that was an awesome write up, very inspirational, I know your POPS is proud, looking forward till next time I can race side by side with you once again.

  3. Joey says:

    Awesome job Athan! Reading about this and reading your emails about the Fortitude training insprires me!! Keep it up and I plan to do the next CMC!

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