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The Iron Cavalier Challenge

I tweeted a few weeks ago a set of pictures that the UVa Athletics had put on Facebook giving an inside look into the Iron Cavalier obstacle course. I also mentioned that it was probably one of the worst things to do in the history of history. Trust me, I was not lying. 

The "Iron Cav" as many around the UVa baseball program so affectionately call it is a serious of events after fall baseball ends. There are usually around 3 or 4 per week after the Tuesday and Thursday workouts and ends usually just before Thanksgiving break with the Iron Cavalier obstacle course. Each event rewards points to the top 5 finishers and the points are added up at the very end of the fall to award a winner in the Pitchers group and in the Position Players(non-pitchers/real-men) group. The winner wins a TJ bust at the Step Up to the Plate dinner in January, bragging rights for the next year, and immortality. Okay, the immortality comes later on in the season.

All of the events are just about the most physically demanding, emotionally draining, and mentally toughening challenges you could ever think of. You want to try one you say? No way they could be that tough you say? Baseball players aren't actually athletes you say? Fine. Get two sandbags. Fill both of them up so they each way roughly 25-30 lbs. Close them up with the crudest duck tape you have. Wait till the weather becomes about 35 degrees. Walk up and down a set of about 40 stairs for 5 straight minutes. Don't forget the most important ingredient: you're an 18-21 year old trying to impress not only your teammates but gain the respect of your coaches as well. Oh yea, you also worked out already before you did this and had a full day of classes. Sound too easy? Alright, I'll give you another one. Find the closest baseball field. Go out into the dirt of the infield between second base and third base. Form the pike position(pushup position but elbows on the ground instead of hands). Stay there as long as you can. 5 minutes? Congrats, you just came in last. 10 minutes? You're not last but you certainly didn't win any points either. If anyone wants points in this challenge they have to last at least 15 minutes. Beau Seabury lasted for about 30 minutes my first year on the team and won. The record still stands if I am not mistaken. 

Those two sounded easy right? Well, the Pièce de résistance is the Iron Cavalier obstacle course that I mentioned earlier. Since I have tried to block it out of all of my memory this might not be an exact recollection of the obstacles in the course but I will do my best. The last two years of my time with the team we started at Scott Stadium and snaked the entire lower bowl of stands(snaking a field is hard; snaking stands is terrible). After the snake we had to run from Scott Stadium to the Dav(about a mile). From there we had to do the sandbag carry over again, up and down the steps three times. The hill behind the stadium was the next spot where an army crawl up and down five times. Sidenote, this obstacle was the location of one of the funniest moments of my life as I heard Coach Karl Kuhn tell one of my teammates to "Get his butt down or he was going to get shot!" apparently, this was a war against ourselves and others. After the Army Crawl we ran into the field where we had to use the side walls and jump onto and stand up on the five foot wall10 times. After that we had to do 15 burpee push-ups(If you don't know you don't want to know). Following the burpee push-ups we had to forward roll, barrel roll, and lunge down and back 90 feet in Right Field. Coming back to the sandbags we had to zig-zag through the infield of the dirt carrying two more bags. Two more obstacles and you can rest......On the left field line we had to throw 5 tires from the field over the chain fence onto the hill. Last obstacle but close to, if not, the worst. Starting at the left-field foul pole we had to pick up a 15 lb bucket of balls and run around the entire warning track without letting the bucket touch or rest on your head.

The whole thing takes about 40 minutes but I can tell you it is the most emotionally and physically draining 40 minutes I have ever experienced and ever care to experience again.  It is highly difficult but the feeling one gets after finishing it with your teammates and coaches watching is such a rewarding feeling that words can not describe. Fortunately, this obstacle course ends the fall and everyone knows that the season is just coming over the horizon and before we knew it its time to hit lasers and strike out the scrubs of the rest of the ACC. Oh yea, after everyone is done, you have 5 minutes of abs to do.......ON YOUR BUTTS!