People are coming to Perry from around the country Friday to get a taste of what life is like for the Army’s Special Forces.
Former Green Beret Mark Ballas is founder of Green Beret Challenge, a company that gives ordinary people a chance to see if they have the mettle to be an elite operator.
He started out doing obstacle course races, but the gathering being held Friday and Saturday at the Guardian Centers facility is different. It’s not a race but a 24-hour test of mind, body and spirit, he says, by letting people experience what a Green Beret does in training and in the field.
The event is divided into three phases with only short breaks in between. It runs from 7 p.m. Friday until about 7 p.m. Saturday. Participants will divide into teams and perform some daunting physical fitness challenges tied to “push, pull, carry” exercises. Later, they will get tactical training and be given a mission to complete.
He is expecting 24 people from around the country to show up at a cost of $300 each.
“This event gives them a little picture, a little snapshot of some the things we have to do as potential Green Berets going through training and as Green Berets on the team,” he said.
It’s the second event the company has held this year at the Guardian Centers, a privately owned training facility for emergency responders that includes a mock city and a neighborhood that can be flooded.
Green Beret Challenge is holding another event at the location on July 22, in which he expects about 400 people to attend. That is a 6-mile obstacle-course race that costs $85. People can sign up by going to the company’s website at www.greenberetchallenge.com.
He is expecting to return to the Perry facility for more events in the future.
There is a growing trend of people looking for physical-challenge events that go beyond 5K races.
“They want something harder and harder, and we have one of the hardest events in America,” Ballas said.
About a third of the participants in the Perry event are women, and one of those is Deborah Arrieta of Atlanta. She does obstacle-course races about every weekend, and she said she likes the Perry event because it isn’t a race. Ballas has held two other events like it, both in the woods, and Arrieta was the first woman to complete his first event.
She also liked the fact that female participants were required to do all the same things as the males, and she liked the teamwork aspect of it.
“You walk away with this amazing feeling of accomplishment,” she said. “It’s a mental challenge, and there is nothing comparable to that.”