USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) participated in a special Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) event June 18 to commemorate the ship's transit through the Suez Canal.
The "Race the Ditch" contest challenged 12 teams, made up of more than 400 participants, to a 116.2 mile treadmill race in the ship's hangar bay. The 116.2 miles the runners traveled corresponded to the length of the Suez Canal, while the term "ditch" is an affectionate reference to the canal's shallow waters, said Megahn Dronberger, Truman's fun boss.
Runners from each of the 12 teams were allowed to swap out at intervals in relay-style fashion after safely bringing the treadmill to a complete stop for the next runner.
"We wanted to make the race a good team-building exercise," said Dronberger.
The size and strategy of each team varied, with many choosing to divide the 116.2 mile length between 50-60 crew members. Many of the fastest runners chose to run multiple legs of the race.
The embarked Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was the smallest of the competing teams, with each of the seven runners averaging approximately 17 miles.
Helicopter Squadron (HS) 7 and Harry S. Truman's Reactor Department initially tied for first place with a time of 13 hours and 58 minutes. To break the tie, the two fastest Sailors from each team competed in a 1-mile "race-off", with HS-7 emerging as the victor.
Lt. Cmdr. Jim Zoulias, HS-7's operations officer and the team's last runner, said it was a big day for the squadron, and that everyone from the aircrew to the pilots to the maintenance shops contributed to the squadron's success.
More than 100 crew members gathered to cheer on their friends, offer support, and shout out encouragement.
"Toward the end of the day it became real competitive," said Zoulias. "We were a little behind but we caught up at the end. It was a good time and a really good team event."
All participants received an MWR "Fit for Fighting" towel to commemorate the event.
Based on the enthusiastic response the race generated, MWR plans to offer related team-building activities throughout the deployment.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.