More than 11,000 soldiers participated in the Fifth Annual Ground Forces Race last week. According to officials with the IDF Fitness Department, this record-breaking number has made this year’s race the world’s largest foot race with only military personnel.
Commander of the IDF Ground Forces, Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, who was among the runners, said, “This impressive accomplishment is a consequence of the revolutionary development of the physical fitness program of the Ground Forces. The revolution has come at the hands of steadfast combat commanders employing a stellar program of physical fitness.”
“The race is a powerful tradition that can enter the Guinness World Record books as the largest military race ever organized,” Turgeman added.
The IAF commando unit Shaldag finished in first place in the 10 kilometer (6.2 miles) race, with the Givati Commando brigade and Northern Command’s commando unit, Egoz, taking second and third places respectively.
This was only one of several heats held at the officer training academy base, Bahad 1.
The school for Military Field Intelligence won the prize for most participants.
One focus of this year’s race was the special competition designated for officers with the rank of Brigadier General and above, created to accommodate the large number of officials who took part in this year’s competition.
“Physical fitness begins with the commanders,” explained Head of the IDF Lifestyles department, Maj. Michel Dagan. “They are leading examples for the military lifestyle, and because of their high turnout we opened a special heat just for them.”
In this heat the winner was Brig. Gen. Itay Virob, commander of the course for company and battalion commanders, who is also expected to be appointed as head of the Infantry and Paratroopers later this year.
“The track is not easy, the field has a lot of ups and downs,” explained Maj. Dagan. “The level of fitness was very high and the professionalism was exceptional. This is made possible thanks to the change in our physical culture. This is a very important part of combat fitness and is a significant factor in the continued success of our fitness and lifestyle staff.”