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Fire on the River may be most commonly known for fireworks and festival food, but for some the event comes with a grueling test of their body’s capabilities.

Four teams of four came out July 6 to compete in the Wisconsin Army National Guard boot camp. The event involves “a 1-mile rough march, or run, with 35 pounds in their backpacks or vest,” said Wisconsin Army National Guard Sgt. First Class Rocco Sylvester. “Then we have the obstacle course (with) flipping tires, worm crawling, sandbags, climbing a rope and sprinting. And then the last one is the Humvee (pull) 100 feet.”

The boot camp activities are similar to what recruits experience in the National Guard, Sylvester said. “(Some people) have never had the experience of a drill sergeant before, so they kind of want to see what that’s like,” Sylvester said.

One team, Wicked Tine, participated in the event last year, when it was first held.

“Rocco is my neighbor (and) he told me about it,” said Sherman Raschein of Wicked Tine. “It just sounded like something fun to put the body through so, we did it last year and had a great time so we signed up right away this year.”

Raschein said he would advise anyone considering the boot camp to “just sign up.” The event, he said, is ultimately less about competition and more about completion. “It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, you can just have fun with it,” Raschein said.

The event was a family one for Team Caminiti. The Caminitis, who consisted of three sisters and one cousin, came out to support their family member, Clayton Caminiti, who recently joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard and was present at the event.

Lydia Caminiti said the rope was the hardest part of the event “for sure.” She said she would consider doing the boot camp again.

“I don’t know that you can necessarily prepare for everything, you don’t know what’s going to come,” Caminiti said. “Just give it your best.”

Clayton Caminiti said it was “good” and “nice to know” his family came out to participate in the event.

Team Sauk Prairie Fitness consisted of Abby Rogers, Becca Litscher, Kristina Holte and Sam Holte. “We got recruited by Sylvester,” Rogers said. “Two of us were in the military and I’m also in personal training so the aspect of fitness, team camaraderie,” appeals.

Litscher summed up the 1-mile run with four words: “It kicked my butt.”

Litscher and Rogers said they would recommend the experience to others.

Josh Staniszewski, who participated last year with a different team, said he anticipates Team Zeus will return for the boot camp next year.

Staniszewski said the obstacle course was the hardest event. “It’s so much more about team experience than competition,” Staniszewski said. “Everybody is working together, everybody is supporting each other with it.”

Like Team Caminiti, Team Zeus was comprised of family members.

After coming in second last year, Wicked Tine finished first in 2019. Team Zeus finished second and Team Caminiti came in third.

The prices for first, second and third were $100, $75 and $50 respectively.

“This is the second year for the boot camp fitness challenged,” said Fire on the River Chairman Paul Fiscus. “We’re always amazed at the dedication. You’ve got a lot of people with crossfit now, you’ve got a lot of people in these spartan races and tough mudders and this kind of athletic stuff is not new. But we didn’t think it would necessarily go with Fire on the River, but even on a day like today where we had rain this morning and it was kind of muddy, people came out, they worked hard (and) we had four great teams. I think it’s a testament to the National Guard.”

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl or contact him at 608-697-6353

Reporter

Juneau County Star-Times reporter

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