Three members of the Army’s Warrior Transition Unit Alpha Company departed from Fort Irwin at 3 a.m. this morning in order to participate in the 14th annual Low Tide Ride & Stride.
The 8.2 mile run/ride kicked off at 8 a.m. at the in Imperial Beach and concluded about a mile north of the at Sunset Park. In addition to being the longest all-beach run/ride on the West Coast, it’s also the only one that passes through a Naval amphibious base, organizers said.
1st Sgt. Harry Cleveland said that “today will be the first real test of (my) soldiers since they’ve been practicing on the incumbent bikes,” he said.
“We like to have the soldiers focus on their abilities and not their disabilities,” Cleveland said. “Some people have good upper-body strength but can’t use their legs. We have one bike where it’s all upper-body strength, but we have another one where the soldier will have to pedal with his legs.”
Spc. Arnuflo Lopez, 20, said he’s become extremely interested in using the hand-cycle incumbent bike since his injury prohibits him from running.
“I became injured during training up in Utah during an exercise where we were running downhill,” Lopez said. “There was a lot of ice and snow and I was carrying all of my gear with me. I slipped off the ice and all of my weight fell on top of my ankle.”
Lopez, who currently has 15 screws and one plate in his ankle, is hopeful that after a second surgery and physical therapy he’ll be able to recover and deploy. For now, however, he is thankful he can take advantage of alternative methods of physical training.
“Even after our PT hours I’ll go back to the company and sign out the bike and cruise around post,” he said. “And the next thing you know I’m here.”
Event volunteer Melissa Wolf said a total of 795 people participated in this year’s LTRS. Representatives from the Coronado Rotary Club say they anticipate this year’s revenues will exceed the $36,000 raised in 2010.
Event Chairwoman Jane Braun said 51 percent of the proceeds are committed to military causes.
“Every single person associated with the event is a volunteer, and because of that, every dollar we raise from our sponsors goes to the primary beneficiaries that the rotary supports, including the military’s Comprehensive Combat Casualty Care Center (C-5) at the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park,” she said.
“C-5’s continuum of care helps service members overcome immediate challenges presented by illness or injury while concurrently maintaining a focus on helping them with eventual return to active duty or transition services, as well as providing family support,” Braun said.
Other beneficiaries of the LTRS include the Fisher House at Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
“The Fisher House is much like the Ronald McDonald House because it allows families of active-duty military personnel to be with their loved ones who are receiving medical care,” she said.
The Wounded Warrior Foundation, said LTRS Co-Chair Gary Kennedy, helps injured soldiers with either financial or in-kind gifts.
“We’ve been having a good part of the proceeds from this event go to military charities for about three years now,” Kennedy said. “We recognize the importance of supporting military causes.”
1st Sgt. Cleveland said he was exited to have his soldiers participate in the LTRS. He was, however, curious to see how they'd hold up on the incumbent bikes due to the course’s beach-sand terrain.
“One way or another I’ve already told them, its 8.2 miles and the van is at the finish line,” Cleveland said. “And the only way to get back (to base) is to get there.”
Final race results will be published online Monday, organizers said.