Leslie Peoples and her teammate of Team Kill Cliff climb over an 8 foot wall while participating in the first annual Operation One Voice Special Warrior Challenge 5K 10 Obstacle course at Lake Lanier Islands in Buford on Saturday. The event which supported families of wounded and fallen soldiers included mud crawls, a rope bridge and several 8 foot walls to climb over.
BUFORD -- The term "weekend warrior" tends to be associated with the person who hits the golf course, tennis court or running trail on Saturday or Sunday after a long, tough week of work or school.
But that term would be difficult to place on any of the men and women who participated in Saturday's Operation One Voice Special Ops Warrior Challenge, a 5K plus 10 obstacles race hosted by the city of Duluth Police Department.
Instead, many of these folks are just warriors.
Hosted by Operation One Voice on the old Pinelsle Golf Course at Lake Lanier Islands Resort, more than 200 runners in multiple age groups came together to run the adventure-style course that featured a rope bridge, mud crawls and 8-foot walls over the hilly terrain. But the demanding course and a brief rain shower didn't dampen the spirits of these men and women who represent law enforcement, military and the corporate community.
Operation One Voice is a program designed by police officers, firefighters and community leaders to raise funds to help support the immediate needs of children and families of fallen and wounded special operations forces. This includes United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC), Air Force Special Command (AFSOC), Marine Force Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
The Lake Lanier Islands Resort also featured white crosses with American flags along the drive into the park, which have become a trademark of Operation One Voice events to honor the families of fallen Special Operations Forces troops.
Tim Oleksinski took overall honors as well as the men's top finisher award with a time of 22:20.3. Oleksinski's time also put him at the top of the men's 40-and-over age group. Meanwhile, Kathy Carlton was the top women's finisher as she crossed the finish line in 24:28.7. Her time also gave her top honors in the women's 40-and-over group.
Alexandra Bryant took the top award in the women's 1-29 age category with a time of 38:19.2 and Austen Fowler was the top finisher for the men's 1-29 age category with a clocking of 29:20.2. Stephanie Cobb took the honors in the women's 30-39 group with a time of 30:18.0 and Josh Sweet had the best time in the men's 30-39 category at 27:59.9.
The top law enforcement team came from the Gwinnett County Police Department SWAT team with a winning time of 2:27:07.
"Eric (Charron) and I do a lot of these kind of races in the area and he had actually seen it posted online," Jason Rozier said. "So we got a couple of other guys for our team together. As a team, we usually compete in the Police and Fire Games and have also competed down in Florida. So this is a great event for a great cause."
Along with Rozier and Charron, Bryan Reavis and Jeff Johnston represented the GCPD team and finished with a total time of 2:27:07.
"Most of the guys like to run in these races and they want to be involved," Charron said. "It goes to such a great cause and we have a great time doing it. There are a lot of people out here who represent so much and we're honored to be a part of it."
The top military group was Marines Special Operations Command group, which finished in a combined time of 3:00:56.
"We got involved with Bill Stevens and his Operation One Voice event a couple of years ago," Major General Mark Clark of the MARSOC Raiders said. "As they started doing more events, we wanted to be involved and we brought a team from Special Operations in Camp Lejeune. It does the heart good when everyone comes together for a common cause and we remember our military warriors and their families, plus our public defenders."
There was also a platoon of Rangers, who were dressed and ran in battle uniforms, T-shirts and body armor to honor a fallen comrade.
Team Fitzpatrick took top honors in the corporate group. Donna Esau, Stacy Grogan, Pete Gibbons, Andree Fitzpatrick and Keith Fitzpatrick comprised the team.
Operation One Voice will also conduct the bicycle Honor Ride in September and Special Operations Forces Run in November.