NEWS | Feb. 22, 2022

VNG Soldier selected for All Guard Endurance Team

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

One Virginia National Guard Soldier lifted, ran and sweated his way into a spot on the All Guard Endurance Team after a grueling competition Jan. 15, 2022, in Austin, Texas. 

Master Sgt. Ramon Abreu-Perez, the Virginia Army National Guard master fitness coordinator, qualified for the All Guard team. Abreu-Perez was one of three Soldiers competing from Virginia, and one of 120 Soldiers and Airmen from across the country who competed for a spot on the team. 

“Being part of the All Guard Endurance Team feels amazing and challenging,” said Abreu-Perez. “Making the national team is the first step, after that, your next responsibility is to continue your training and performing well on all the races where you represent the All National Guard Team.”

Although his age qualified him to be considered for the Masters division for those 50 years and older, Abreu-Perez remarkably qualified for main team, beating out several younger competitors. He also placed first in his age group. 

The competition was comprised of the DEKAFIT challenge, a ten-station test of strength, dexterity and stamina. Each competitor is scored on the time it takes them to complete the entire course, which consists of intense challenges such as a 500-meter row, medicine ball sit-ups, a 100-meter farmer’s carry and a 100-meter tank push/pull, all preceded by a 500-meter run. 

“The hardest or most challenging part of the competition is energy management,” said Abreu-Perez. “DEKAFIT is an intense endurance event that test you muscular and aerobic endurance abilities. There is no rest in between events, all 10 events are preceded by 500 meters of running, so you must be able to stay focused and able to distribute your energy efficiently to sustain a hard pace of performance throughout all 10 events and runs.” 

VNG Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Matt Stemmler also competed in Austin, though he fell short of the time needed to qualify for the All Guard team. Despite that disappointment, Stemmler said it was an incredible experience. 

“I love when I have the opportunity to represent the Virginia National Guard,” said Stemmler. “This is the third discipline that I've had the honor of representing team Virginia. I won the All-National Guard Combatives Tournament in 2010, and have competed at multiple regional and national events with the Virginia Marksmanship Team.”

Abreu-Perez said any VNG Soldier or Airman with a serious interest in fitness is eligible to try out for the Virginia National Guard Endurance Team and have their own chance at making the All Guard team in future years. 

“First, for Soldiers that are considering how to challenge themselves in the physical fitness domain, I would highly recommend them to first conduct an assessment of their current abilities, including movement assessments, identifying movement pattern deficiencies and addressing those. Second, develop a training plan that addresses stabilization, muscular endurance, muscular development and aerobic and cardiovascular fitness. Third, signup for a race, or make you own race at a gym or at home and test yourself,” said Abreu-Perez. “Lastly, surround yourself with positive people that have similar goals. As Bill Gates said, ‘Surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you, and push you to be your best self.’” 

Stemmler echoed Abreu-Perez’s advice. 

“Work on total-body functional fitness,” said Stemmler. “Vary your routines so you don't get complacent in your training. Lastly, push yourself outside of your comfort zone. That is the best way to prepare both physically and mentally for an event like this.”

The All Guard Endurance Team is an extension of the National Guard Marathon Program, which promotes the Army and Air National Guard both locally and nationally while bolstering the National Guard Retention Program by instilling physical fitness, self-discipline, and esprit de corps among National Guard members from all 50 states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

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