The original story and a bit of history for those of us who spent many hours slogging through all that sand and such...
They charge up rugged hills...stumble through deep gullies...but finish Proudly
VERITAS, p.6, 3 Aug 1966
They jog along an asphalt road and zig-zag across an open clay area occasionally jumping gullies. Trotting up and down steep hills and narrow trails, they trek through dense woods and thick undergrowth. Ankle deep sand and thick carpets of pine needles cause them to stumble and slip. These men are students in one of four special warfare center M
dvisor courses, who twice weekly race against the clock over a grueling two and one half mile cross country course known as the "MATA Mile."
The "MATA Mile" was designed in February of this year (Feb 1966)
by Major Arthur A. Strange, department director at MATA, and Sergeant First Class Earl Needham, MATA assistant operations sergeant. Criticism of the conventional physical training program formerly employed by MATA prompted the department to design the rugged layout as another step in improving its graduates.
Once he begins to get in shape, the average man can run the course in about 21 minutes, but an 18 minute timing is required to "max the course." The cross country course record belongs to a Marine captain whou toured the layout in about 14 minutes. NOTE - runs were in fatigue uniform and combat boots.
Students are a bit apprehensive when first introduced to the "MATA Mile" on a walk through demonstration. But as time passes, and as legs and lungs become conditioned, many favorable comments are made about the MATA physical training program. A number of students run the course when they are not scheduled to just to keep themselves better conditioned.
The twice weekly run has a phenomenal effect on the student's weights. The men are weighed in at the beginning of each course and reweighed several weeks later. The heavier student tends to lose six to ten pounds while the lighter man usually several pounds during the course.
MATA operations sergeant, MSG George R. Havens, keeps accurate records on all official runs made by the classes. An age factor handicap, applied to the times of the older men, acts as an equalizer between them and the younger students. Although a maximum score of 100 points is the goal for all MATA students, any improvement is viewed with pride by MATA heads and improvement proves the worth of the physical training program.