Thin Cat: Only the Strong Survive

DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, does pull-ups during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base here, February 11.  The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, does pull-ups during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - French Marine Corps Private Ibrahim Wague, 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion, completes one of 50 pull-ups during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - French Marine Corps Private Ibrahim Wague, 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion, completes one of 50 pull-ups during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, climbs a 20-foot rope during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, climbs a 20-foot rope during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) -U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, does one of 100 push-ups after completing 50 pull-ups and six-20 foot rope climbs  during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition on the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) -U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, does one of 100 push-ups after completing 50 pull-ups and six-20 foot rope climbs during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition on the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, does a sit-up during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, does a sit-up during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, runs one lap around a 400-meter track while carrying a 66-pound rucksack during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness challenge at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, runs one lap around a 400-meter track while carrying a 66-pound rucksack during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness challenge at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, completes his last of 10 bench press repetitions during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, completes his last of 10 bench press repetitions during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, moves his hand to clasp the top knot completing one of six 20-foot climbs during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. Competitors are not allowed to use their legs during the rope climb. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, moves his hand to clasp the top knot completing one of six 20-foot climbs during the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. Competitors are not allowed to use their legs during the rope climb. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, completes his last of six rope climbs during the "Thin Chat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss) CJTF-HOA Photo DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (Feb. 11, 2012) - U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, completes his last of six rope climbs during the "Thin Chat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, here, February 11. The "Thin Cat" competition, or "Chat Maigre" in French, requires participants to complete 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and a 135-pound bench-press 10 times in less than 35 minutes and in that order. The French expression "chat maigre" refers to someone who is physically fit and properly conditioned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lael Huss)

French and U.S. service members participated in the "Thin Cat" physical fitness competition at the French Briere de l'Isle military base, in Djibouti, Djibouti, February 11.

The contest, unique to French forces, required participants to complete a series of events, in order: 50 pull-ups, six 20-foot rope climbs using arms only, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, a 400-meter run carrying a 66-pound rucksack and ten 135-pound bench presses—all in less than 35 minutes.

"The competition was born a very long time ago and … has been going every six months ever since," Helbecque said.

The "Thin Cat" name came from the French expression "chat maigre," a term commonly used by French soldiers referring to someone physically fit and properly conditioned, according to French Marine Sergeant Major Christophe Helbecque, French Briere de l'Isle sports office chief.

Competitors who wish to finish the Thin Cat must "manage his time during both the training and the competition," Helbecque added.

"It is a competition of strategy as well as strength. (Thin Cat) allows (competitors) to see if they are a true strategist and military member," said U.S. Army Major Thomas Hammell, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa military information support operations plans officer.

"It's a good competition for physical training," Helbecque said. "It is also good for cohesion between companies and nations."

"It is a friendly competition," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Samuel Sargent, deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, who finished the competition in 37 minutes, 32 seconds. "They appreciated us coming and they showed a lot of smiles and appreciation by just competing with them," he said.

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