ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - And what were you doing at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1? Dreaming about your holiday gift list?
More than 80 Soldiers on Aberdeen Proving Ground, representing 11 organizations and the Maryland National Guard, participated in the Norwegian Ruck March (Marsjmerket), an 18.6 mile/30 kilometer march.
The Norwegian Ruck March is an armed forces earned skill badge. It was first held in 1915 as a test of strength and endurance for members of the Norwegian military and to expose new soldiers to the conditions they can expect in the field. Those who complete the march, with a ruck sack load of at least 25 pounds/11kg, earn the Norwegian Armed Forces Marching Badge.
Muscle cramps and foot issues reduced the number who finished the march. “We saw this opportunity and put it out to the installation, and we were very surprised by the overwhelming desire to participate in the event,” said Capt. Sean Benjamin, event organizer from the Army Test and Evaluation Command.
APG participants gathered in the early morning hours to sign and weigh in to ensure that their rucks met the 25 pound standard. They then stepped off to walk on the roadway around Phillips Army Airfield to complete four laps on the 4.55-mile track, plus the additional .44-mile portion. While time requirements are determined by age and gender, most Soldiers were given just four hours and 30 minutes to finish, averaging roughly 14:31 per mile.
“The Nuclear Disablement Team had the privilege to participate with the greater APG community in a test of our physical endurance,” said Maj. Mark Quint speaking for several team members. “The Marsjmerket gave our Soldiers the opportunity to showcase their physical readiness and stamina even in the face of COVID.”
Medical and water stations were established every two miles along the length of the course around the airfield. Trekking conditions included cloudy skies, a full moon, and APG overnight temperatures at 45-degrees with light winds and no rain.
Since its inception, the march has evolved to become a Foreign Service badge earned by completing the foot march to standard. However, once a participant crosses the finish line, earning the right to wear the Marsjmerket has one more important component – a Soldier needs to complete their regular work day.
The badges and certificates will be sent to Capt. Benjamin from the Norwegian embassy for distribution.