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Blakeslee
04-05-2008, 02:04
I just recently participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March (for the second time). For those who might not know what it is, it's a 26.2 mile ruck march, held at White Sands Missile Range, that honors those who were part of the original Bataan March during WWII. The terrain varied between pavement and loose sand.

Anyhow, I placed this thread in the PT forum to share my experience, lessons learned, and my training plan - also open to any additional advice for the future.

I completed the first 12 miles at 2.5 hours. I got pretty excited and became over confident. That pace quickly slowed down when the next 7-8 miles were at a steady incline. To make matters worse, I failed to stop in a timely manner to tend to my feet. Don't get me wrong, I stopped 3 times along the way to take a short rest, change my socks and dress my hot spots. I just should have stopped around mile 18 to have the medics (stationed along the course), who were better qualified, to dress my feet.

At mile 20, it felt like something stabbed my toe. When I went to pull off the mole skin, the skin came off with it. I did my best to patch things up and finally made it to the last medical station at mile 22. I was there for an hour and a half. They were training the younger medics and each situation was a teaching case. I didn't fuss about losing the time simply because time was only a personal goal and I just wanted to finish the final 4 miles; which I did, but it was the most painful 4 miles of rucking I've ever endured.

I trained consistently for 4 months. I started slow and steady with the mileage and pace. I rucked 3 times a week up to 8-12 miles each time. I never went over 12 miles and I never went over the 35lbs required. With the water and additional socks and shirts, the total weight was at 45lbs. My average training days looked like this:

Mon: 6 mile ruck - weight training - 15 min cardio splits (run/stairs/swim)
Tues: weight training - long run
Wed: 8 mile ruck - swim
Thurs: REST
Fri: 10 - 12 mile ruck only
Sat: weight train only
Sun: REST


Some of the weeks I took 2 days to recover from the longer rucks. I maintained a 15 min/mile pace and I never ran with my ruck on during the training.

Lessons learned: no matter how prepared my body and mind were for this event, my feet (toe) caused me to come in slow. The first time I did this event, I completed it in 6 hours 48 minutes. Last Sunday, minus the time lost at the medic station, I added an hour to my first time. Granted, at 26.2 miles, the time isn't as important as finishing the race while doing your best not to hurt yourself. It only took me 3 days to recover, but to know that a simple toe can cause me to become not as effective as I able to be.

Anyhow, thanks for your time and allowing me to share my experience. Should I be fortunate enough to attend SFAS down the road, I'll train as efficiently and as smart as I can with regards to both PT and rucking.

rudelsg2
04-05-2008, 08:51
Congratulations on completing the course. I was on point 5 (mile 11) as a course safety. I saw some really bad techniques of foot care out there. Everything from cotton socks, 100 mph tape for pre-treating hot spots, popping blisters before the hump was even half way finished and marchers wearing worn out JUMP BOOTS on the course.

It really made you humble (and your heart swell with pride) to see the Wounded Warriors out there pushing themselves. I would point them out to the young health military males who wanted to quit the course when the only thing they were suffering from was small heart syndrome.

It is amazing how many fat, out of shape people think they can just show up, knock out a 26 miler in the desert and not have it hurt the body.

Blakeslee
04-05-2008, 11:23
Congratulations on completing the course. I was on point 5 (mile 11) as a course safety. I saw some really bad techniques of foot care out there. Everything from cotton socks, 100 mph tape for pre-treating hot spots, popping blisters before the hump was even half way finished and marchers wearing worn out JUMP BOOTS on the course.

It really made you humble (and your heart swell with pride) to see the Wounded Warriors out there pushing themselves. I would point them out to the young health military males who wanted to quit the course when the only thing they were suffering from was small heart syndrome.

It is amazing how many fat, out of shape people think they can just show up, knock out a 26 miler in the desert and not have it hurt the body.

Thank you.

I'll be honest, I did wear my jump boots. It's what I trained in and what felt most comfortable on my feet. Lessoned learned and I won't make that mistake again. Thankfully, my feet didn't suffer as much as they could have.

When I was at the medic station, I saw this wounded warrior come in about 45 minutes into my stay. He sat down on a cot and asked to have the blisters on his foot treated quickly - so he could finish. He smiled, got treated and took off. You can't buy that level of inspiration...truly an honor to march along side the wounded warriors.

:)

JMI
04-05-2008, 12:10
Amazing accomplishment, Blakeslee! I am humbled.

jbour13
04-05-2008, 12:54
Good job and good to hear the Wounded Warriors carrying on.

I wish to someday participate, we will see how well the deployments let some of us try it out.

jsragman
04-05-2008, 13:40
Blakeslee,

How'd you feel about that Sand Pit around Mile 19? They weren't joking around with that thing.

I was out there with my ROTC team and it was quite a change of scenery from the flat & cold that is Illinois in the winter. And I definitely second the lessons learned on taking care of your feet.

-Derek

FXCOfire
04-05-2008, 14:55
thanks for the training plan. It will be in my training plan file.
I participated last year and was disappointed to not make it this year. An experience in so many ways... The sand pit was tough but just the thought of what the Bataan vets endured or seeing the Wounded Warriors was a reminder that somone has had it tougher. The motivation it provides over the year for PT is hard to describe.

Next year I hope to be back.

Gypsy
04-05-2008, 17:23
Congrats to you, Blakeslee...and to all who participated.

Never Forget.

Blakeslee
04-05-2008, 17:24
Blakeslee,

How'd you feel about that Sand Pit around Mile 19? They weren't joking around with that thing.

I was out there with my ROTC team and it was quite a change of scenery from the flat & cold that is Illinois in the winter. And I definitely second the lessons learned on taking care of your feet.

-Derek
Derek,

That sand pit is where everyone starts to get "bitchy." You know, where you start to get mad. I would here people saying, "this is bulls**t!"

When I got there, I tried to run on the far edges as much as I could and for the most part, I found myself saying, "just one foot in front of the next, don't quit."

:lifter

TOMAHAWK9521
05-20-2008, 14:50
Good job, Blakeslee.

My father has asked if I am ever going to do that event seeing as how his father was one of the survivors from the fall of Bataan. Granted, my grandfather lucked out (if you can call it that) and was jammed into one of the last vehicles before the Japanese began the remaining POWs on their horrific ordeal.

My problem is that 21+ years of jumping and doing road marches throughout my career in the RGR/SF thing has jacked my knees. Right now I'm not sure I could do that event even if I wanted to. Still, I probably should take a shot at it for the family someday.

AngryPistols
05-20-2008, 16:32
...It is amazing how many fat, out of shape people think they can just show up, knock out a 26 miler in the desert and not have it hurt the body.

Ahem, finisher #662 here.:D

Call me old school, but, the funniest thing I saw was the Air Force 'couple' holding hands, in uniform, for just about the entire march. We were in front of them just about the entire way.

I'll prolly do it again next year, hopefully with a better time.

Angry

Red Flag 1
05-20-2008, 16:58
Congats to Blakslee , Angry and all who marched.

When I was @ Vandenberg, I had a patient who survived the march. He was put on a Jap transport that was sunk by one of our subs. He was rescued, put on another Jap transport that was also sunk. Picked up by US warship. Crewed on that destroyer until the wars' end. Quite a guy, and quite a story.

RF 1

cbo1187
05-23-2008, 22:31
Your story sounds pretty familiar, Blakeslee. I was on a team with jsragman, and I think our feet experienced the same waves of pain as yours. Great job on that time, though, you really smoked the course.

Your time was much faster than we completed it, and in our AAR, we identified our lack of cardiovascular training as a weak point in our PT plan. We were definitely not ready for the difference in elevation and the crazy inclines...or the sand pit. I was hating life during that little stretch. That sand was intense...felt like I was walking but not going anywhere. I'll be back out there next year with a new crew, so we're going to have to re-tool our training plan a bit. Still a great experience though.

As far as the wounded warriors go, seeing them on the trail was one of the most inspirational things I've witnessed. My hat's off to all that competed. I couldn't help but feel like an ant in their presence at the finish line.

Blakeslee
05-23-2008, 22:50
Thanks man!

If I'm not in Ranger school or preparing to go...I'll see you there next year. :lifter


I'll run a lot more during my training and won't care about "a" time. I'm just going to do it to honor those soldiers and use the event as an excuse to insanely train.

Machete
02-07-2010, 23:21
Wow. It's nice to find out about an event like this. My late great-grandmother was from Bataan, and I believe she took part in the original Death March during the occupation.

Lots of respect to everyone who participated.

Calvengeance
03-25-2010, 23:30
Seems like a killer marathon.

ShamrockSix
08-28-2010, 13:25
Congrats on the completion. For those of you on the East Coast, there is a similar event called the Mountain Man Memorial March. It is held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and based on Bataan - basically the same rules, distance, categories, etcetera. Mountain Man is held in honor of a Benning classmate of mine who was killed in Iraq in 2007 while serving with the 25th ID. He was a UT grad, so the UT Army ROTC sponsors this march.

Maybe not as brutal, climate and terrain-wise, as Bataan, but a good hike nonetheless.

www.mountainmanmemorialmarch.com

http://visitsouth.com/articles/article/mountain-man-memorial-march-april-17-gatlinburg-tn/

HMass18Z
08-28-2010, 15:48
Congrats to all that have attended and completed the Bataan Memorial Death March in beautiful White Sands, NM.

I completed it with a team of guys from my small group back in '04 when I was attending Charm School at Ft Bliss. My son also completed the march two or three times with his ROTC buddies. So, we can both share the stories about the Sand Pit around mile 19 or so ..... BUT as all can attest, the highlight of the march is meeting the survivors, the true American Heroes. Meeting and talking to those guys is an honor.

BML104
12-06-2011, 10:44
I'm planning on participating in the "half" distance (Knees are shot.) in 2012. Any suggestions on a specific make/model of boot for a wide (EEE) foot?

TIA

Ben

Sulfek
01-12-2013, 22:41
First hand account from a survivor of this nightmare, my grandfather SFC Clarence G. Zealor.

Sulfek
01-12-2013, 22:45
The last pages and a picture.

mark46th
01-13-2013, 20:39
A friend of my mother's was a Death March Survivor. Although approached many times for his experience by researchers, historians and authors, he would never discuss it...

Sulfek
01-13-2013, 21:48
A friend of my mother's was a Death March Survivor. Although approached many times for his experience by researchers, historians and authors, he would never discuss it...

My Grandfather ended up dying after his release once he returned to the states, I believe from the treatment received in the camps. I never met him and my mom said he never spoke of it either, she found the journal in some of his things after the funeral. I wish I could have the chance to sit and talk with him about this if he was alive and also willing to share.

mark46th
01-13-2013, 22:51
The average U.S. soldier was in no way prepared for the brutality the Japanese inflicted on prisoners. It was so horrifying, the survivor's guilt for those who made it through the war in captivity was practically unbearable.

Gypsy
01-14-2013, 18:26
It was an honor to read your grandfather's account, Sulfek. Thank you for posting it.

PRB
01-14-2013, 20:47
Congrats on an excellent physical challenge...but dammit, I hate celebrating one of our biggest defeats and surrender of arms with an event.
There are numerous 'unsurrendered Americans' that worked organizing the Guerrilla effort. Now that would be worth celebrating...not a damned surrender trek.

Richard
01-14-2013, 21:07
...celebrating...

I disagree. It's not a 'celebration' - it's a 'memorial' event similar to Memorial Day or Pearl Harbor Day or the 9-11 rememberances.

Never forget...and drive on.

Richard :munchin

PRB
01-15-2013, 12:05
Ok, I hate memorializing our biggest defeat and surrender of arms...when many 'unsurrenderd' individuals took to the hills and organized Guerrila forces...let's memorialize that with a march.

MR2
01-15-2013, 12:31
I do believe that those who were on Corrigador were pretty much trapped, ordered to surrender, and had nowhere to go.

Regardless, Bataan is the reason for the old saying "A thousand days in evasion beats just one day on your knees".

Stargazer
01-17-2013, 15:24
Sulfek, thank you for sharing your grandfather's journal.

After reading about the Bataan March, my view of General MacArthur was forever changed.

Sulfek
01-17-2013, 17:59
I am glad those who read the journal found it.... Enlightening.... (I dont know the right word to use). I took the journal on my deployments, when things seemed to suck and I was down, his account of his 3+ year endeavor would change my perspective immediately. Maybe others in equally crappy places will stumble on this and find the best of their worst situation.