Thin Cat: Only the Strong Survive
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.