It's that time of year again — the 2017 Best Ranger Competition kicks off Friday morning.
The annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition is a storied three-day event that pits the military's best two-man Ranger teams against each other in back-to-back events.
Competitors, who must be graduates of the Army's Ranger School, are put through events that test their physical conditioning, Ranger skills and team strategies. The events are back-to-back and around the clock for 60 hours, allowing little time for rest and meals.
This year, 53 two-man teams are scheduled to start the grueling competition at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Hosted by the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, the men will compete for the coveted title of Best Ranger.
Back for more punishment this year are last year’s champions, Capt. Robert Killian and Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein.
Killian and Friedlein won the 2016 competition, netting the Army National Guard its very first Best Ranger win.
This will be the sixth Best Ranger Competition for Killian, a Special Forces captain and 2015 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship winner who previously finished the Best Ranger Competition in second place two years in a row. For Friedlein, this will be his fourth time competing.
Also in the hunt this year are previous champs Master Sgt. Chad Stackpole, who will represent the 82nd Airborne Division, and Capt. Michael Rose, who will represent the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Representing the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Rolfes will be competing for the sixth time this year. Rolfes came in second place last year — his best showing — alongside teammate 1st Sgt. David Floutier. This year, Rolfes is pairing up with Staff Sgt. Anthony Allen.
This year’s first event is scheduled to kick off at 6 a.m. Friday, and the competition will run continuously through Sunday evening.
Events typically include weapons firing, extended road marches, day and night land navigation courses, Ranger skills and parachute jumps. All events are timed, and competitors score points for each completed event. Both team members must complete each task.
A formal awards ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at McGinnis-Wickam Hall in Fort Benning’s Marshall Auditorium.
The Best Ranger competition, famous for its punishing pace, was established in 1982 and has been compared to the Ironman and Eco-Challenge competitions. Last year, just 23 of the 50 teams made it to the final day of competition.
The competition is open to the public, and several events are spectator-friendly, according to organizers.
Check out the
page for a schedule of events. Family and friends are encouraged to tweet updates on their teams during the competition using the hashtag #BestRanger, @FortBenning.