Just because you lost a race — or didn't even finish it — doesn’t mean the challenge didn’t teach you something. That was the lesson Green Berets with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) recently learned while participating in the Mint 400 off-road race in Nevada. The Mint 400 calls itself the “oldest and toughest off-road race in North America” and has been running since 1968.
The 5th SFG(A) team entered their Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1s in the off-road race, and it wasn’t a fair fight. The other teams were using vehicles specifically built for off-road racing while the Berets were using vehicles loaded with weapons that had not been modified for speed. To be fair to the Berets, they were not actually competing in the race against the specialized vehicles, as they had been placed in a class of their own. The GMVs were only able to finish two 100-mile laps, half of the 400-mile complete race, but were still given a participation trophy in the form of an “honorary finish award” because they spent lots of time helping other teams by pulling their vehicles out when they got stuck, or towing other vehicles to the pit for repairs.
This was the first time active duty military personnel participated in the Mint 400 using actual military vehicles, according to a statement from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. Military personnel have participated in the race in previous years with fundraising and promotional efforts.
“We are excited to see how we compete and see where we stack up with the industry professionals that are here,” a captain with the Operational Detachment Alpha commander, 5th SFG(A), said in that statement. “We have these vehicles loaded out how we would have them for combat and were excited to push their limits and see what they’re capable of.”
The captain (whose full name was not given) explained that the vehicles the Berets ran in the race this year were not built to perform like race vehicles, but the Berets wanted to see what happened when they were pushed to the limit.
Around 500 racers in 80 different vehicle classes took part in the Mint 400 this year, and there were other unusual entries — including a lifted Lincoln Town Car that became the first limo to finish the race. Whatever your vehicle of choice is for this challenging race, actually finishing sometimes requires unusual bathroom tricks, according to Jalopnik, which talked to off-road racers about their catheters and adult diapers. There was no confirmation about how the Green Berets relieved themselves out on the course.