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Interview: Maximum Warrior Winner Derek Hutchison

When the dust settled on the field of battle at Maximum Warrior 4, Marine Corps vet Derek Hutchison had conquered all comers. Semper fi!

For the fourth year in a row, Maxim assembled the American military’s most elite fighting forces to find the best of the best. Navy SEALs, Marine Force Recon and MARSOC, Army Special Forces, and USAF Pararescue went toe-to-toe in 10 challenges, testing their strength, agility, smarts, and, let’s be honest, insanity. But only one man could win, and that was former Marine Derek Hutchison. Here, he tells us what it took to come out on top.
Congrats on your win. How did the competition compare to serving in the field?
It’s very realistic. It’s not like sports where you know the rules. In combat there are no rules: Anything goes. It could be a land mine; it could be an enemy combatant in a suicide vest dressed as a woman. With Maximum Warrior, you may hit a trip wire. That kind of stuff happens. 
Did you know how well you were doing as you went along?
I had no idea. After each event we only knew who finished first and last. I knew I won five events, but for the rest I had to watch the show to find out.

Did you know when you joined the Marines that you wanted to go into Special Ops?
Man, that was a long time ago. At 18, you just know being a Marine is going to be badass, and I knew I wanted to work with the best guys. 
Any moments in your career that really stand out?
I was in Okinawa during 9/11, and it was the middle of the night there. I was woken up, and my team leader said, “Pack your stuff, because we’re going to be going somewhere.” There’s a big misconception where you’ll tell people you’re going to Afghanistan, and they’re like, “Oh, that’s terrible.” No, it’s not. That’s my job: to work with my brothers and fight for this country. 
Your unit was the subject of the book and HBO miniseries Generation Kill, right?
It was my unit, but our sister platoon, so anywhere they were at, we were right there next to them. It was a really accurate depiction of what went down. When I first read the book, it was like déjà vu.
Did you get that same sense of brotherhood with the Maximum Warrior guys?
Oh, yeah. With a group like that, there’s always good-natured competition. We’d tease the Air Force guys because they get the cool equipment or the SEALs because they get the publicity. But if you’re not getting messed with, it's probably because people don’t like you. These were all awesome guys.
Do you guys stay in touch?
Yup. We have a group text, and I get about 20 messages a day. It’s usually something inappropriate, guys giving one another a hard time in a good way. 
You’re now the co-owner and head trainer of a CrossFit franchise. Did that help?
It gave me a big edge. All the competitors can shoot well, everyone can think on his feet, and everyone is fit, but you never knew what to expect. In one event we had to climb a wall, and there was a sniper rifle at the top. Hitting targets at distance is hard enough, but CrossFitters know how to manage their heart rates and keep a level head.
Where did it help you the most?
Definitely the obstacle course. Most guys would take off like a gunshot, and after three or four obstacles they were gassed. I went out at 80 percent and went just hard enough to win. My game plan was a light jog between obstacles, and once I got there, no hesitation. 

Check out Navy SEAL Talks Combat, Brotherhood & Lone Survivor and A Veteran Responds To Tom Cruise's Claim That Acting Is Like Fighting In Afghanistan