Roanoke College also is a sponsor of the event, and 25 of its students are spending most of their fall break as marshals for the competition.
The college has a five-member team led by team captain Dr. Julie Maina, assistant professor of health and human performance. She is joined by Dr. James Dalton, executive director of information technology; Albert Roberts, a plumber in the maintenance department; Dr. Richard Grant, associate professor of physics; and Heath Davis, a sophomore from Fishersville, Va.
The team has been meeting to do physical training together and to prepare for the event. In intelligent sports, the teams are not only confronted by physical challenges but face problem-solving issues as well. Whether it's breaking codes, constructing engineering tasks or devising winning strategies, teamwork and intelligence are needed for success. The events are all a surprise, and team captains learn of the event structures about an hour before each event begins. Although Roanoke is a local team, its members will stay in the hotel with other competitors so they can quickly scramble for the events.
"One of the biggest challenges is the unknown aspect of the competition," Maina says. "We have met to do physical training together and to discuss sample problems from past competitions. We have been trying to identify our strengths and weaknesses as a group. None of us work together on a daily basis, so we are creating a brand-new team."
Maina expects the competition to be tough. "Many of our competitors are working with existing teams with experience in this type of competition. And they have already visited the Roanoke Valley to train here."
"You can be in really great shape," Maina says, "but if your strategy has holes in it, you can be defeated by a team that is physically weaker if they have a better strategy."
"We want to be competitive, but we also want to have fun," Maina adds. And the team members enjoy a challenge. Dalton is a triathlete who competed in the off-road triathlon XTerra World Championship in Hawaii in 2004. Grant competes in triathlons and also enjoys mountain biking. Davis is a member of the men's soccer team. Maina's focus is swimming and running (and chasing after her young children). Roberts also does triathlons and has run in the Boston Marathon.
This competition comes on the heels of Men's Fitness magazine ranking the Roanoke College campus the 19th "fittest" in the country. The U.S Challenge will be taped for broadcast later on Outdoor Life Network.
Roanoke College, the country's second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 270 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast." Roanoke's 1,970 students represent 40 states across the U.S. and 26 foreign countries.
For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.