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‘Oscar Mike’ Endurance Race in Burnet More Mental Than Physical

Josh Phillips of the YMCA of the Highland Lakes at Galloway-Hammond in Burnet is leading the 'Oscar Mike' Endurance Operations obstacle race Dec. 9-10. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

BURNET — Josh Phillips said he lost his purpose for nearly a decade when he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy.

Competing in obstacle courses gave him the resolve and confidence to move forward with his life.

Now, the fitness staff member of the YMCA of the Highland Lakes at Galloway-Hammond wants to help others who feel like he did find their way again through his “Oscar Mike” Endurance Operations race, which starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and finishes at 2 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at the facility, 1601 S. Water St. (U.S. 281) in Burnet.

Cost is $45 for YMCA members and $50 for non-members. Go to to register.

Phillips is creating the obstacle course himself, fulfilling a desire to share his love of the sport with others.

He dealt with some personal issues after being honorably discharged from the Navy, he said.

“I had lost my drive to do things,” he said. “I’d forgotten who I was and challenging myself that way. (Obstacle courses) let me have the opportunity to see who I was. It gave me the realization to keep going and give me the drive to do what I want to do to be successful.”

People in the service have their day planned for them, which includes what to wear, when to eat, when to work, when to exercise, and other activities that civilians do for themselves.

When Phillips was discharged, he had to figure out for himself how to plan his day.

“It’s a big shock,” he said. “It’s real easy to lose yourself. I was trying to find something to challenge me and to give me that teamwork and the whole feeling.”

About eight years after he got out of the Navy, Phillips discovered obstacle course training, which tested him physically and mentally.

Best of all, he got a new lease on life because of the confidence it gave him once he completed a race. With that newfound confidence, he believed he could do just about anything he set his mind to.

“That’s exactly why I do it,” he said. “It lets you find out so much about yourself. When you’re competing and you can’t get over the wall, there’s always a hand to pick you up. It reminds you you’re not alone, no matter what.”

Phillips said individuals don’t have to be in shape to participate, noting the obstacles are more mental than physical.

“There’ll be someone to help you,” he said. “Everyone starts off as an individual, but you finish as a team. I’m not there to do more than guide them to becoming something greater than themselves by the end.”

Phillips would say only that the course is made up of “a bunch of different obstacles.” In military jargon, "Oscar Mike," used on the front lines, means "on the move," which is appropriate for an endurance race.

“It’s similar to an obstacle course or a Spartan Race,” he said, “but people will use more of their body weight and challenges. CrossFit is more weightlifting.”

The race is six hours long with a few breaks. Participants will get a challenge coin at the end.

“It’s specially designed for this,” Phillips said. “It’s something you can carry in your pocket to remind you you have strength.”

Participants should expect to want to stop while competing, and that’s to be expected, Phillips said.

“We’ll take you to that point where you want to quit but don’t,” he said. “I wanted to do something to help other people find themselves in it.”

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