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Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Obstacle Course toppled

By Cpl. Pedro Cardenas | Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | September 16, 2013

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A recruit of Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, hurdles over a wood beam during the Obstacle Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5. Recruits must perform the course while wearing combat utilities and boots.

A recruit of Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, hurdles over a wood beam during the Obstacle Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5. Recruits must perform the course while wearing combat utilities and boots. (Photo by Cpl. Pedro Cardenas)


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Capt. J. R. Sherwood (top center), commanding officer, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, leads by example and shows recruits how to climb to the top of a 20 foot rope during the Obstacle Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5.

Capt. J. R. Sherwood (top center), commanding officer, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, leads by example and shows recruits how to climb to the top of a 20 foot rope during the Obstacle Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5. (Photo by Cpl. Pedro Cardenas)


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Recruit Richard J. Hibdon of Platoon 2107, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, balances across a pair of wood beams during the Obstacle Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5. Drill instructors create a stressful environment for recruits by yelling and demanding speed at all times.

Recruit Richard J. Hibdon of Platoon 2107, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, balances across a pair of wood beams during the Obstacle Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Sept. 5. Drill instructors create a stressful environment for recruits by yelling and demanding speed at all times. (Photo by Cpl. Pedro Cardenas)


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San Diego -- Physical fitness and mental toughness of recruits are initially tested during weeks two and three of recruit training. The Obstacle Course is one of the early events (training day nine) used to build grit and strength.

Recruits of Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, conquered the O-Course aboard the depot, Sept. 5.

 “The purpose of the Obstacle Course is to mentally condition recruits for combat and also get recruits over their mental and physical fears,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua W. Cline, drill instructor, Platoon 2107. “This is going to build their confidence for future events when training becomes more demanding. It’s going to be less stressful and they are going to be more conditioned.”

Recruits begin the course by pulling their body over a high bar, then, slide across metal tubes. Afterward, recruits have to balance across wood beams, mount over a wall and then, after hurdling over a few wooden beams, they must climb a 20 foot rope.

Once at the top of the rope, recruits yell their platoon number and the name of their senior drill instructor, signifying they have completed the course. 

After completing the course, recruits have one more physical push to make. They must buddy drag another recruit, of similar size, approximately 40-yards.

Immediately prior to the O-Course, recruits spend a few hours learning moves from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, in a process that is meant to induce fatigue for the event to follow, the O-course. Once recruits begin the O-Course, drill instructors create a stressful environment for recruits by yelling and demanding speed.

Mental toughness helps recruits perform beyond what they thought were their physical limitations.

“It helps you perform under stress and while you are physically exhausted,” said Recruit Robert T. Foster.

The O-Course is designed to also build confidence because, “Just like anything, knowing how to overcome each obstacle individually and doing all this while exhausted and tired, is very difficult,” said Cline a Mantua, Ohio native.

For some recruits, the O-Course is a new learning experience, which they can use during deployments or combat operations.

“It was challenging at parts, but it prepares you for combat because there isn’t a playing field where you will be operating,” said Foster a Vancouver, Wash. native. “It gives you a sense of pride knowing you can adapt and overcome.”

As recruits continue to move further into training, the tasks get tougher. During training day 47 and the Crucible (training day 61-62), recruits will face the Obstacle Course again, and each time they will be required to perform under more difficult circumstances. When recruits reach the Crucible, they will be tasked to complete it while wearing full combat utilities, a helmet and carrying an M16-A4 service rifle.

Recruits of Co. E have completed the Obstacle Course for the first time, however, they still have a long road ahead of them. Their confidence and physical fitness continues to grow, which will help them push ahead, earning the title “Marine.”


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