Friday, November 7, 2014

TOP STORY >> Surviving the Norwegian Foot March

By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Thirty participants with ChemLights strapped to their rucks and headlamps on, began an 18.6-mile march Oct. 31 at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The only light that fell on the faces of soldiers and Airmen were the orange incandescent lamps that lined the streets.

Men and women competed in age categories in order to be awarded the Norwegian Foot March badge. The categories determined the times that each participant needed to finish. 

The rucksacks carried by each participant were required to weigh at least 25 pounds, but could not be filled with items that could be replenished along their route such as water, sand or rocks. The rucks were also weighed when each participant finished to ensure the weight of the sack was not lessened during the march.

After meeting at Hangar 1080 for weigh-ins and a safety brief, the participants were shuttled to the Arnold Drive gate and filed out of the bus to form up, briefly pausing for a moment of silence or positive thoughts. As the stars still blanketed the sky, the countdown began and the members hustled off from the starting point to earn the right to wear the badge.

The grueling 18.6-mile trek began at the Arnold Drive gate, with the competitors making their way to Vandenberg Boulevard, down to Marshall Road, then finally down Chief Master Sgt. Williams Drive bringing them back to the Arnold Drive gate only to do it again. Their last leg led them through Heritage Park, where they finished at Hangar 1080.

Assisting with the march were 19th Security Forces Squadron members and 19th Medical Group personnel. While the 19th SFS escorted the participants throughout the route, ensuring the ruckers safety by blocking intersections as the runners came through, medical personnel set up aid stations along the way while keeping a close eye on the competitors and watched for injured personnel needing medical assistance. 

“We were looking to build morale and partner with Little Rock Air Force Base, and we thought this would be a nice joint opportunity at no cost to the government,” said Maj. Michael O’Hara, Army National Guard Professional Education Center headquarters company commander.

O’Hara, a veteran of five marathons, completed the foot march in first place with a time of 3 hours and 39 minutes with Army Command Sgt. Maj. Greg Slater trailing him the entire time. Slater finished in 3 hours and 44 minutes.

Airman 1st Class Taylor Moore, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician crossed the finish line in third place with co-worker Staff Sgt. Ian Gately by his side. 

“It definitely takes a good partner to keep each other going when you are ready to throw in the towel,” said Moore. “It is fun to physically train with other people and do something different, something different than everyone else does.” 

Although 30 participants started the journey to achieve the badge only 20 finished in the allotted time to earn it.

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