CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -Soldiers of KFOR 26 participated in the Danish Contingent (DANCON) 25 kilometer march under the blistering sun and cloudless skies around Camp Novo Selo, July 21.
The DANCON march has been a tradition with the Danish Defense since 1972, when the Royal Danish Army deployed on Cyprus. A physical readiness and social opportunity for troops deployed alongside Danes, DANCON marches take place around the world. This was the first morale-boosting event for KFOR 26 since the rotation's transfer of authority just a few days prior.
"It was a great chance to do a multinational event right after arriving in Kosovo," said U.S. Army Capt. Martin Steiner, claims attorney for KFOR 26 and the first American male to complete the march. "The topography was challenging, the scenery was beautiful and I look forward to the next one."
More than 600 participants from across KFOR marched Sunday, including soldiers of the KFOR 26 Forward Command Post (FCP). Infantry platoon leader 1st Lt. Alyssa Brenner was the first American female to cross the finish line.
To be eligible for the DANCON March medal, participating troops had eight hours to complete the 25 km march while carrying a total weight of at least 10 kilograms, or about 22 pounds. Before the march, organizers collected an entry fee, with all proceeds benefiting select charity organizations in Kosovo.
First Lt. Thomas Howard, KFOR 26 FCP, said he believes marching and sweating alongside the multinational partners helps to build NATO relationships. KFOR is a NATO-led international peacekeeping force that has contributed to the freedom of movement and a safe and secure environment in Kosovo since 1999.
Participants hiked through the communities near Camp Novo Selo, up steep hills and through mud and rocks in the blazing sun to boost morale and push their physical limits.
Lance Cpl. Jesper Strottrup from the Danish Guard Detachment helped make sure everyone participating made it through the halfway checkpoint.
"We're registering everyone coming through here, making sure that everyone has made it," he said. "If they are not crossed off on the list, we'll go out and look for them."
The final two kilometers of the march were an honor lap around Camp Novo Selo, where troops received their certificate of achievement and DANCON March medal.