JoshuasTravels — pre-Oz

Posts categorized “pre-Oz”.

October 20th 2004

the 2004 Ranger Challenge competition

Ranger Challenge finished up Sunday, we wound up taking 3rd out of 27 teams. Believe me, those other two teams (from 30,000+ schools) preformed very, very well. It breaks down like this: Friday night we all shuffled into a large warehouse filled with long tables and plenty of fold out chairs. We completed both the written Land Navigation test (how to plot points on a grid, etc) and the patrolling exam (knowledge Infantry leaders would need to know in the field). Then it was back to the barracks for hygiene and lights out.

Unlike last year, we didn’t stay up late walking around the woods of Missouri on “patrol.” I was kind of disappointed (it really adds an endurance factor to the Challenge), but I didn’t complain. 4AM Saturday morning we were back on our feet, prepping for the 0500 APFT test. I did admirable well (another 296 – 70 push-ups, 78 sit-ups, 13:15 2mile), and our team average was around 295.

Changing from our Army workout uniforms to BDUs (the camouflaged fatigues with boots), we set off for the Hand Grenade Assault Course (HGAC). This is just what it sounds like – throwing dummy grenades at dummy enemies. It’s a lot of fun and probably the least stressful of all the events. I didn’t do too well, but I enjoyed it.

We completed the practical Land Nav exercise next. It’s also what it sounds like – running through the forest, map in hand, looking for these red and white posts that correspond to little dots on the map. We finished pretty well, but not as good as a few other teams. As we were being briefed, however, Major General Castro kind of wandered up from out of nowhere and asked if he could have a few words with us. I know I sound like a rookie, but I think it’s pretty cool that a two-star looked me in the eyes, shook my hand, and wished me good luck. Before then, the highest ranking officer I’d ever seen was a retired full colonel. If colonels talk to God, Major Generals are Archangels. I almost had bladder problems, it was so intense – I couldn’t stop glancing at his rank insignia.

More info:

After that, M16 assembly/ disassembly was fairly simple – the weapon was designed to be broken down fairly easily. You’re given a maximum of two minutes for combined tear-down and rebuild, but if you do themboth in under 45 seconds (and complete the necessary functions check correctly), you max the event. I maxed the event, making up for my earlier HGAC screw-up. That’s why we’re a team – one person messes up,the team adapts. Then he does really well the next time, covering for someone else’s screw-up.

Our next event, the 1-rope bridge, is a real stinker. In under 20 minutes, we have to drop rucks, tie Swiss seats (very very uncomfortable rock-climbing harnesses constructed with a single rope), re-ruck, use some complicated knots to tie a longer rope between two poles, pull the rope really tight, tie it off, cross 7 soldiers infull battle rattle (weapon slung in-between our LCEs (the belt and shoulder-harness things) and our bodies, muzzle pointing downward), untie the complicated knots, lay out the rope completely flat (even one little loop is a 30 second penalty), and call “time.” Traditionally, we do really well at this event, so we stuck with traditions and finished in 8:11.

The last event is a real gut-checker. A 10K is tough enough in the hot Missouri heat, but things will really get interesting if you throw on BDUs, boots, weapons, 35-40lbs rucks and a slightly unreasonable Team Captain. We finished in 71 minutes, faster than any other team at the Ranger Challenge. Of all things, I’m most proud of that. 71 minutes is an incredible pace, especially after a full day of taxing events.

You’re already mentally and physically exhausted by the start of the Road March. Around the first mile, you’ll start to cramp, but keep running. You have to block out everything else and run when they say run and stride-out when they say stride. There were a few winter swim practices where I thought I’d been tired before, but this was the fatigue beyond all the fatigue and second winds. I bottomed out my endorphins cache with two miles to go. It was pain slightly worse than childbirth, but it was worth it. We cowboyed up.

So while we did only make 3rd place, we did very well. If you would’ve told me Thursday that our performance Saturday wouldn’t have won us first place, I would not have believed you. We’re disappointed we didn’t win, but we’re satisfied with our efforts. We left if all out on Mogadishu Mile (that last 1600meters of the 10K) and there’s nothing we could’ve done harder or smarter of faster. We did our best.

Josh Fenton

PS – Our football team is pathetic. We lost 42-0 last weekend, solidifying our winless season

PPS- Ranger Challenge pictures and an Australia update will be sent along before long

October 10th 2004

Big doings in the Kirksville gulf…

Warning: this is a big old e-mail.

First things first – one day, I’d like to write for the New York Times. To do that, however, I’ve heard it’s a good idea to get some experience writing for school newspapers. Thus, last Thursday’s column (attached for your viewing pleasure) on how much I abhor content-controlled mass media. Bizarrely, they left out my best quote;
Jason Clow saying “techno is just trumped up 80’s hair band rock, anyway – like Devo gone horrible, terribly wrong. Times a million.” When I pressured the editor for a comment, she said it was “one of the best first columns I’ve seen in a while.” As far as I know, that’s basically journalist-talk for “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” So depending on the public reaction, my grammatical errors, and the alignment of the planets, I might be writing more columns next semester. Which is fine with me – if they want me, they know my e-ddress.

The ‘ol Ranger Challenge is going quite well. I took another APFT Monday, after I’d been sick for the previous four days. I busted through it for a 297 out 300, which solidified my spot on Alpha Team. Then I went on a double-quick, really intense ruck run (6.2 miles in full “battle rattle” – boots, BDUS, rucksack, rubber weapon, Kevlar helmet, etc) Wednesday. I finished with the top dogs in 67 minutes, rolled over and puked up Gatorade and turkey sandwich in the grass, totally grossing out one of the girls I play Ultimate Frisbee with. It was nothing personal, she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The competition is next weekend, and we’re looking very strong. I won’t say more than that, but I hope I’ll be sending out one exciting e-mail at the start of next week.

Went and saw Yellowcard last night. Believe it or not, our student activities board convinced the MTV-pop music band to come Kirksville. At least half the people in the audience were 14yr old townies in

miniskirts. When they played “Ocean Avenue,” I saw at least three heads explode. It was an alright time.

All my Australia stuff got sent off today, so I should have a definite yes/no answer and timetable by the end of two weeks. I’m also looking at trying to knock out a half-Ironman triathlon while I’m down under. How cool would that be? Who’d pass up the chance to swim with sharks, bike with Aussies, and run with aborigines?
Also, my suitemate wants you to check him out on Hot or Not:

Perhaps least importantly, mid-terms are coming up. I’m not too worried about Military Science or Advanced Public Speaking, but Chemistry and German and Rhetoric are going to take some studying. The better grades I get, the better my chances are of NOT joining the “bullet catcher” branch of the Army. Talk about motivation.

Josh Fenton
PS- To unsubscribe to these zany, risk-taking send-outs, send your name, e-mail address and $50 to Fenton, room 348 / [removed] / Kirksville, MO 63501

I hate to get all preachy, but I saw this fantastic column in the St. ouis Post-Dispatch and wanted to share it. Forgot to PS it, though.


September 14th 2004

Another day, another “A” …or something like that

I woke up last Monday morning far, far earlier than anyone should (especially college students). But believe me; I had a flipping good reason to. Today was the diagnostic Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). I’ve never figured out why they hold them so early – as one good friend pointed out; they fight wars in the early afternoon, too. But these things are figured out far above my rank (“Cadet” – Drill Sergeants consider us one step below Privates, who are themselves considered one step below dog-stained fire hydrants). Either way the Army, with its wicked penchant to confuse the ability to run long distances quickly and do many push-ups or sit-ups with things like intelligence, leadership potential, and degree of motivation, tested all the hundred-odd Cadets this early, early morning. Basically the APFT records how many push-ups and sit-ups you can knock out in two minutes apiece followed by a timed two mile run. As fun as it is, there are a few other things we’d all like to be doing.

But I’ve been training all summer and I was able to hold my own – 73 push-ups and 85 sit-ups with a 12:37 run for a total score of 312 out of 300 (extra points for each push-up or sit-up past the maximum and each six second decrease from the max run time). Comparatively, I finished second only to one of the new super-Freshmen. Having said
that, I suppose it’s redundant to say that the Ranger Challenge season is going very well. This year’s captains are big on (read: addicted to) smoking us each session, but that’s a good thing. By October 15th, we should have a solid shot at the first place. I’ll let you know how we did when it rolls around.

In non-athletic news, my beautiful sister Anna and our wonderful cousin Micah flew out to see me last weekend. They seemed to have a great time: fine Kirksville cuisine was eaten, Taboo was played, pictures were taken. Check it out at: [removed]

Academically, things are going great. I’m loving all my classes except Chemistry 100. The professor has delusions of grandeur and believes it’s his responsibility to educate us more on metaphysics than, oh, say… Chemistry? For anyone who’s ever read Starship Troopers, he’s a wannabe Mr. Dubois. It’s pretty lame, but my Rhetoric, Advanced Public
Speaking, Military Science, and German profs are all way cool (each in their own little way). One bad instructor to every four good ones is a ratio I can live with.

My roommates are awesome, too. Fun, open-minded and considerate, they let me go to bed around 8PM the nights before those early morning Ranger Challenge PTs. What more could I ask for? College is fantastic. I hope you’re all having as great a time as I am.

Josh Springsteen

PS- the attached files are pictures of my digs, just in case anyone wanted to visualize la casa de Fenton

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September 2nd 2004

A quick rundown of 2004 addresses, etc

That’s (left to right) David, me and Tim. It’s a poor-res camera phone pic, but it gets the job done. Sometime I’ll have up full digital pics, and I’ll send out the weblink. We’re having a great time and I think it’s going to be beautiful year.

Ranger Challenge starts next week. A tough PT was led yesterday morning by the Challenge captains, so this year is going to be strenuous, interesting, and worthwhile. Starting Monday at 5:30AM, I’m busting my tail to run as fast as the next guy. Push-ups I’ve got, it’s the swimming to running transition that bothers me. But I’ve gotten better and I’m getting better.

I can be reached at this e-mail address, [removed] and at
Fenton, Rm 348
Kirksville, MO 63501
Feel free to send anything or nothing, including but not limited to: letters ofrecommendation, chocolate-peanut butter flavor Powerbars, deadpresidents, subscriptions to Wired and/or other “educational” magazines. All at your discretion, of course.

Also, I’m going to Newcastle, Australia next semester, provided I can jump through all the hoops before the deadlines are up (which I can). They say you can buy a board for a hundredish dollars, hop the public transportation and surf all day, everday. There’s a class during spring break that busses students up and down the coast, surfing every day in a new spot. Add to the fact that I’ve schedule in a few pass-fail, Aussie histroy classes to my Four Year Plan and I really really can’t wait. I’ll e- more details as I get them.

Josh Fenton

to unsubscribe to this mailing list just tell me, okay?


August 26th 2004

I came, I saw, I dominated

Well, the San Franciscan Clam Chowder and views are as spectacular as ever. Last Sunday I participated in the 24th Alcatraz Challenge, a duathalon (a 2mile swim from the Rock to the Waterfront followed by a 7mile run across the Golden Gate bridge and back). It was the third time I’ve swam from Alcatraz, but the first time I’ve done the run after it.

In summation, it was a blast. I finished both the swim in 47 minutes and the run in 53 minutes. With a 6 minute transition between events (changing into running shorts and shoes, scarfing a Powerbar), I finished in with a time of 1:46:44.0. The results are available at .
Frankly, I was pretty surprised with how fast I ran (about seven and a half minute miles). I was even more awed when they gave me a Shark’s tooth – the award for finishing first in your age group. Overall, I finished 47th out of 500-odd swimmers. Even more amazing, of the five or six people that passed me on the run, at least three were in their mid thirties. And they were all hauling – I hope I’m that in shape when I’m that age.

Josh Fenton, duathalete

Pictures can be found at:

A pretty good page on the Challenge:

PS – Party this Saturday, my house. 11:30AM. Bring a suit and a towel. The weather is forecasted to be sunny, but we’ve got backup plans just in case.

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let's lose charley