FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) — The 39th Best Ranger Competition got underway early Friday morning on post at Fort Benning. On Saturday, the event will move into downtown Columbus for the first time.

The Best Ranger Competition is a test of mental and physical fitness. It is 54 grueling hours over three days. Here’s the start of it.”

When the Best Ranger competition began at 0600 Friday morning at Camp Rogers, more than 50 two-man teams were in the running to be the best of the best.

“This is about winning, right? As our chief of staff says, winning matters,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Q. Burris, Infantry School Commandant. “In this business, there’s no second place. So, all 56 teams are looking to win out there.”

Winning and intensity.

The teams come from across the Army. And family members came from across the country to support their soldiers.

Denise Flanders and her husband, Jim, came in from Nebraska to watch their son, Sgt. Grayson Flanders from the 82nd Airborne compete.

“And we are just so happy for him,” Denise Flanders said. “We know he’s got these dreams and he’s working so hard to try and make them come true. We are so glad we got to be here.”

They took their son to dinner Thursday night, hours before the competition started.

“He loaded up on bread sticks and pasta, and salad,” she said, laughing at the thought. “So, he was carb-loading pretty heavy.”

Sgt. Flanders is going to need those carbs as they run, march, swim, and fight their way to Sunday afternoon.

There’s a twist this year. Saturday, the competition will move into Columbus. It will start at 9 a.m. inside A.J. McClung Stadium. The events in and around A.J. McClung Stadium will run from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Tomorrow is an opportunity for the American public to meet their army, right, to meet folks that are serving today,” Burris said. “And maybe it’ll generate some interest, right? So, it’s a good opportunity to reconnect with the community.”

And they are going to meet the best the Army has to offer.

“You are going to see the top 1 percent of 1 the percent of our soldiers,” said Col. Chris Hammonds, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. “Rangers that can do things with heads, their minds, their hands, their weapons that no other soldiers can.”

The first event Friday morning was a 7-mile run with each team having to tote a 60-pound sandbag. When 1st Lt. Matt Blackbum finished that run, his dog Millie was waiting on him.

And Millie was glad to see him.

Amy Rowe came in from Virginia to watch her son compete.

“I think Millie is his good luck charm,” Rowe said. “And I got a really good picture of them together.”

You can follow the Best Ranger Competition on this link.