FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- A pair of noncommissioned officers with U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command took on the challenge of the Norwegian Foot March on April 2, conquering the physically demanding 18.6-mile trek at Fort Belvoir.
Sgts. 1st Class David Trujillo and Peung Kim finished the march under their required time of four hours and 35 minutes to earn their Norwegian Foot March badge, joining just over half of the 450 participants in the event to do so.
“This type of competition beats up your body,” Trujillo said. “At the end of the race, I felt good, but the next day I was sore all over.”
The inspiration behind the endurance test stems from the Norwegian Army, which started the march in 1915 during World War I to train new recruits and ensure its troops could move quickly over great distances while carrying their rucksack or weaponry weighing 11 kilograms.
The current-day test, as adapted by the U.S. military in coordination with the Norwegian embassy, mirrors these requirements at the standard measurement equivalents of 18.6 miles with a rucksack weighing 25 pounds. Grouped by age and gender, each participant has a standard completion time requirement to pass the test.
For the AMLC duo, Trujillo crossed the finish line in just under four hours, followed by Kim with about 20 minutes to spare.
“The event was an amazing experience,” Kim said. “Physically, I didn’t feel I was ready, but I was determined and motivated. … I wanted to challenge myself, but also motivate and influence my peers, especially younger Soldiers, to come out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves as well.”
Trujillo, who currently serves as noncommissioned officer in charge for AMLC Support Operations, or SPO, said his motivation to complete the event came from two sources -- his faith and his five daughters.
“I believe God has a plan for each and every one of us and we need to be ready spiritually, mentally and physically for the day that God calls on us,” he said. “Completing a race like this will challenge all three areas.
“I also wanted to show my girls that anything is possible when you put your mind to it,” Trujillo added. “Not only did I want to do it for my girls, but my fellow Soldiers as well. As a leader you can’t expect your Soldiers to do something you are not willing to do.”
In addition to his work at SPO, Trujillo is training Kim, a current student in the Strategic Medical Logistics Fellows Program, as his replacement following Kim’s graduation in June.
The two NCOs took their camaraderie from the office to the field in taking on the Norwegian Ruck March together. Preparation is key to overcoming the strenuous challenge, both Soldiers said.
The route around the Virginia installation included wooded areas and paved streets to mimic a unit traversing different terrain to reach a target position.
Kim acknowledged his hectic schedule made training sessions more difficult to plan, but he said perseverance in planning leads to success in action.
“It starts with setting a goal and getting out of bed early to train when you have the option to sleep in,” he said. “Every mile, every minute of training counts toward your regimen during the preparation phase. Always remember to embrace and enjoy the process.”
Trujillo said he went through an eight-week train-up program to prepare, amassing over 150 miles and making his day-of performance a bit easier to manage.
It came at the cost of many early mornings.
“I was waking up at 0300 to work out to still have time to work and spend time with my family,” he said. “Many people say it’s not the completion of the task that’s most rewarding, but the journey it takes to get there. I couldn’t agree more.”
Overcoming a major obstacle or challenge can also teach you a thing or two about yourself. For Trujillo, though, it’s more of a reminder of what he already knew.
“My biggest takeaway is that no matter your age, if you have a desire to accomplish something, you can do it,” he said. “I’m going to be 41 years old this year, but I still can keep up with Soldiers half my age.”
AMLC, headquartered at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is the Army’s life cycle management command for medical materiel.