FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Master Sgt. Lakesha Edmond, who is assigned to U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, overcame the challenge of the Norwegian Foot March, earning her badge for completing the grueling 18.6-mile ruck march in the early morning hours of July 23.
About 70 Soldiers from Fort Detrick took part in the timed event, which requires participants to carry a 25-pound ruck over what equates to 30 kilometers. Most need to finish under four hours and 30 minutes, but the time requirement varies by age and gender.
Edmond, non-commissioned officer in charge for operations at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, a direct reporting unit to AMLC, finished with a time of four hours, 56 minutes, just inside the required five-hour time limit for her age group.
“The experience was intimidating, but humbling,” said Edmond, who was on leave at the time and planned to a catch a flight later that day. “… At the end of the march, my feet were on fire, uniform drenched, body pushed to the limit and I had a flight to catch in less than three hours.”
The march dates back to 1915 when it was established as an endurance test for Soldiers in the Norwegian military. Those who successfully complete the challenge earn the Norwegian Foot March Badge, verified and awarded through the Norwegian embassy.
Edmond was joined by two other participants from AMLC, Master Sgt. Danielle Smith and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Ockimey, although they both fell short of completing the march in time to earn their badge.
Despite the outcome, Smith, AMLC’s team leader, said it was an opportunity to represent the command and challenge themselves.
“It’s important as a Soldier to continue to push ourselves to meet challenging goals and build character,” said Smith, non-commissioned officer in charge for AMLC’s G-3/5/7. “I also wanted to lead by example by always signing myself up, even if I know how much it will hurt during and after.”
The Fort Detrick event, organized by U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, kicked off a couple hours before midnight, and Soldiers followed a three-lap route around the outskirts of the installation.
“It really tests you,” Ockimey said. “How far can you push yourself? And mentally, it takes a lot. You have to really focus to meet the objective.”
Ockimey said it was the longest ruck march he’s participated in his Army career. Navigating in darkness, he completed nearly 16 miles before he ran out of time.
“I’ve still got work to do,” he said.
Edmond said her personal focus on physical fitness helped her to push through and complete the march alongside others from the installation.
“I pushed through because of my mindset,” she said. “I didn’t focus on the aches and pains … I spoke positive affirmations to myself and just said ‘you can do this,’ and I did.
“Mind over matter is what I learned 19 years ago and it still works today.”