20th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March -- photo by David Young
Have you ever wanted to test your limits? Well now is your chance as the 21st annual Bataan Memorial Death March will occur on March 21st, 2010. This 26.2 mile marathon takes place in White Sands, New Mexico and is open for registration. There is also a half-marathon (15.2 miles), if 26.2 miles seems a little daunting. To participate in this event is a great honor and a tremendous way to pay respect to our soldiers who have paid a tremendous sacrifice to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.
Trudging up the mountain side -- photo by David Young
The Bataan Memorial Death March honors a group of WWII heroes who were forced to surrender their post after a horrific and futile battle in the Philippines. After the soldiers were captured they were forced to march for days in the relentless heat of the Philippine jungle. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers died during this march and the survivors faced tragedy as prisoners of war. This Memorial Death March pays tribute to the brave souls who died on this gruesome journey.
There are two main categories you may march in, military or civilian. The categories break down into individual marchers, or team entries of five participants per team. The first subcategory is light, which is suited for running or walking with no weight to carry. The second subcategory is heavy, which requires the participant to carry a pack weighing 35 lbs. This is a memorial march dedicated to the brave soldiers of Bataan, so anyone even if handicapped, may participate in the event. Awards will be given to select marcher’s who finish first in their category.
Photo of me about mile 15 -- photo by David Young
Participants should arrive one day in advance to allow for in-processing. On this day, you or your team will process into the march and receive a T-shirt and commemorative coin. The following day the march will begin at the glorious hour of 6:00am. However, it is recommended to arrive at 4:30am to allow for weigh-in and other preparations. Breakfast is provided in the morning and there are water and medical points all along the route. Still, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the march. For travel arrangements to White Sands, NM, click here.
I had the privilege to participate in last year’s march and can honestly say it is a once in a lifetime experience. Before the march began, survivors of Bataan spoke and gave their words of encouragement as we honored their fallen brothers by walking just a fraction of their epic journey. It is an experience that will bring tears to your eyes. I won’t lie and say it was an easy march. It is challenging and you will question yourself many times along way. This is an opportunity to learn a great deal about yourself, both physically and mentally. The Bataan Memorial Death March is an exhausting, yet rewarding journey.
If you are interested in participating in this march and would like a guide to preparing your mind and body, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a personal preparation guide.
From left to right: Sooy, Martin, Summers, and me, after we completed the march.
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