USO Warrior Week: “Monster Mash” takes NAVY SEAL training to the beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – It’s the last day of USO Warrior Week here in Hampton Roads. Sunday morning, about 100 people put their fitness to the test with the “Monster Mash.”

Three and half miles may not seem like a long run for some people. But add sand, water, a series of Navy Seal training exercises and you’ve got yourself a challenge.

“Just a lot of sand and water. The ocean adds a mixture to it because moving water with the different waves, coming in and crashing on you,” says Michael Saunders, who lives in Virginia Beach. He and his wife Amanda ran the Monster Mash. They’re used to obstacle course races, but they said this one pushed them to their limits.

“You’re doing flutter kicks in the sand, you’re doing push ups in the sand, and drill instructors are yelling at you to do it again, so just that sense of teamwork that really needs to be done,” says Saunders.

Not only did local athletes come out, so did international ones.

“In my opinion the hardest part is whenever you hit an obstacle and your pulse goes up. To continue at the same pace in your run, that’s a burning sensation and your lungs are just falling out. So the part of continuing when every part of your body tells you not to, that’s the hardest part,” says Jesper Lundberg, who is a sergeant in the Danish Army.

The event was hosted by UDT Seal, which takes care of Navy SEALs and their families. They say the goal of the race was to give people a taste of what Navy SEALs go through during training.

“It’s really neat to see them encourage and a phrase that we have “embrace the suck” and they’re truly doing that. And its fun to see the fellow competitors doing that,” says Retired SEAL Master Chief Steven Gonzalez, who is the operations officer for UDT Seal.

That support is exactly what showed up Sunday morning at the oceanfront.

“Virginia Beach is a military base city so we support them,” says Saunders.

Organizers do plan to host another Monster Mash next year. As USO Warrior Week comes to a close, there were more than 50 Danish military members that traveled to Virginia Beach for event. The founder of the Danish Wounded Warriors says he and leaders of USO have been planning this trip for a year and it was all worth it.

“I think it’s fantastic. We collaborated at the same battlefield and now we found each other across the Atlantic Ocean and we collaborated as a wounded warrior,” says Jacob Panton, who is the founder of the Danish Wounded Warriors. “They had us feeling the same patriotism that they share with their wounded warriors and that’s just fantastic.”

Panton says Denmark will host its own Wounded Warrior week in August. They plan to host a group of American soldiers there.