They aren’t professional athletes, but about 80 competitors spent an hour Friday at the Denver Broncos indoor practice facility.
They weren’t trying for a shot a professional glory.
Instead, they ran, did sit-ups, push-ups and more to honor David Carter, a Colorado National Guardsman from Aurora, who was killed in 2011 during a rescue mission in Afghanistan.
Carter also was one of 43 fallen service members honored Friday during the annual Maltz Challenge. The event, which started in 2006 and is now held in 57 countries, is named for U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, who was killed during a 2003 rescue mission in Afghanistan.
Originally only police officers, firefighters and members of the military completed the challenge. But now more people and locations have started participating, said Michael Cuento, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in Denver.
“If they gave their ultimate sacrifice by losing their lives and serving this country, then this is our way of honoring their legacy and their sacrifice,” Cuento said. “By having an honoree every year, we are reminded of why we are doing this.”
The challenge: 400 meter run, 50 pull-ups, 100 meter fireman’s carry or 200 meter farmer’s walk, 50 dips, 100 push-ups, 50 knees-to-elbows, 100 sit-ups and a final 400 meter run.
Marty Cone, 60, of Golden, finished first with a fast time of 8 minutes and 51 seconds. He said his time was about a minute faster than last year’s.
“They went over there for us in the battlefield. We are here because of what people did for us, and so we honor their families,” he said.
Cone, who said he’s ready to start training for next year’s challenge, talked with Carter’s family to pay his respects.
He teared up talking about their loss. “You wish you could share their pain. They paid their ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in some far-off country,” Cone said. “I wish we could help them.”
Participants finished the challenge gasping for air. Many sat on the floor and waited to catch their breath before checking their time.
“I’m feeling pretty tired,” Adam Allen, 46, of Colorado Springs said. “I’m a year older, so it’s that much harder.”
Allen plans to do the Maltz Challenge every year, but wishes more people would both participate and donate to the cause.