Aptly named U.S. Army veteran Gunner Bezrutczyk had one word to say when he completed the Marine combat fitness test on Veterans Day.
Bezrutczyk, who served from 1988 to 1992, was one of nine participants to take part in the excruciating fitness test at Copper Sky Regional Park Saturday.
“I try to stay in shape, but I’m almost 56 years old,” he said. “It was tiring but we pulled together.”
Local residents Ron Angerame and Natalie McGrory hosted the Marine combat fitness test to help others gain some insight into the challenges Marines endure, as well as to collect donations for the Maricopa Veterans Center.
“Everybody did great,” Angerame said. “Even though it’s hard, I think people had a good time.”
‘The toughest 10 minutes of your life’
Quick and fierce, the CFT is performed every six months to evaluate the strength, stamina and agility of enlisted Marines, a feat that won’t go unnoticed by anyone who’s struggled through it.
It entails an 800-yard sprint, a two-minute 30-pound ammunition can lift and a 300-yard maneuver-under-fire scenario. Then comes rapid-fire sprinting, crawling, dragging and fireman-carrying a body. Finally, the test demands pushups, carrying ammo cans and a grenade throw.
Marines are expected to complete all of these tasks in a matter of minutes.
“They say it’s the toughest 10 minutes of your life, but it’s a good challenge,” Angerame said.
Participant Dwayne Wilson agreed.
“It was tough but fun,” he said. “My goal was just to complete every task the best I could.”
The youngest participant, 12-year-old Tim Rodi, took the test on a whim alongside his mother, Elizabeth Rodi.
“My mom told me about the test this morning and I had literally nothing to do at home,” he said.
Tim Rodi said he was inspired by his father, a former Army Ranger, and it gave him a little insight into that experience.
“It’s been fun,” he said of the CFT. “A little tiring but fun.”
‘People underestimate their own strength’
For McGrory, part of the fun in hosting the event was seeing how others pushed themselves and each other to complete the CFT.
“I thought it would be a fun way to kind of test peoples’ spirit,” she said. “Just to bring people here and show them they are able to make big things happen for themselves.”
Angerame, who completed the test earlier this year, said it proved to himself what he’s capable of doing.
“It was really tough,” he said. “But one of the things I learned is that the only thing that could hold myself back was myself.”
“I think a lot of people underestimate their own strength,” McGrory said. “For me, your success is my success, so showing somebody they can push through their limits and succeed and do things they never thought was a possibility is very satisfying for me as a coach.”