A local fitness team began in 2005 with one man looking for company during the annual O’Fallon Turkey Trot race. Brian Trout didn’t know that 11 years later, the Road Warriors would have 11 chapters and 4,399 members worldwide, including two European chapters.
The local chapter, which began at Scott Air Force Base, did not officially become the Road Warriors until 2008. Trout marveled “I look at this team and am amazed everyday. I often say it is the best accidental thing I have ever done! I did not set out with this result in mind. At first it was part selfish (I didn’t want to train alone or go to races where I didn’t know anyone) and part military (we have a requirement to be fit so they were my first recruits). But it didn’t take long before I realized fitness was for everyone.”
Trout has kept the team free for all to join, and does not require anyone to participate in specific races or purchase their team apparel. The Road Warriors’ group description reads “We are a group of individuals who believe fitness and health are important. Although most of us are involved in running, we don’t limit ourselves. Swimming, walking, biking, triathlons, etc. are all options, too. We also believe we can make a difference, so we work to motivate and inspire others to maintain or increase their fitness. All are welcome to become part of the team, regardless of current level of fitness, speed, or proficiency.”
While most members are runners that Trout believes join well into their fitness journey, he mentioned that he knows the team can seem intimidating to those just beginning their journey.
“They think they have to be fast and fit to be able to join. Those are the people we still need to reach. They don’t realize we have a group that calls themselves the Purple Turtles. We have walkers, joggers, and runners of every pace. We have kids as young as three participating in fitness events and mature adults as old as 85. It doesn’t matter what they do for fitness as long as they do something. We want to be there for them. Each one we get has the ability to motivate, encourage, and inspire so many more. It is our way of ‘paying it forward.’ The interesting concept is how many start their fitness journey because of us that we don’t even know about. They may feel they have to get some fitness before they approach us, or they may never approach us, but at least they started.”
The Road Warriors compete in races around the world, and while some races have a strong multi-member presence, Trout said that there is usually at least one team member in every race in the St. Louis Metro area. Team members can be distinguished by their signature purple camouflage apparel. The purple is meant to signify all military branches working together. Members of the team span multiple military branches, and Trout wanted to include the civilian community as another branch working towards the overall goal of fitness. The design of the team shirt has other special features, such as black to honor sacrifice, and the POW/MIA logo.
“One of the most amazing things is to be in a race and have someone thank you for displaying the POW/MIA symbol. It may be because they have a family member who was a POW or is still MIA, or it may be because they were themselves – I’ve had both occur. Sadly, we are also finding out how many of the younger generation don’t even know what it stands for. I’ve even been questioned a couple of times whether I believe there are still POW’s out there. They seem to forget we are currently in a war that has included POW’s and MIA’s,” Trout said.
Trout and his wife, Gitta Brink, are affectionately known by the team as “Papa and Mama Road Warrior.” Trout seems amused with the moniker, mentioning “I can’t remember how far back or even who first called me Papa Road Warrior, but it took me awhile to embrace the nickname; it made me feel old.” He went on to say that Brink became known as “Mama” as soon as the pair started dating. They race with the team, though Trout has been waylaid with knee issues, and will continue this year to work towards the goal of completing a marathon in all 50 states. Trout’s personal total is 87 half marathons and two full marathons. He travels as much as he can to races with team members across the globe. He also welcomes the new members when they join the chapter groups on Facebook, and posts motivational messages for all team chapters.
Whether looking for camaraderie, motivation, or help kick starting your fitness journey, for more information about the Road Warriors, or to join their team, they can be found on Facebook, and Trout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.