By: Madison Thompson
FORT KNOX, Ky. – 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Cadets completed their 12-mile ruck march test, July 21, during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox. The goal is to complete the 12-mile ruck march under four hours. For RECONDO candidates, it must be completed under three hours.
“We completed a 12-mile ruck march with a minimum 35-pound ruck. Some Cadets had more or less. That was up to them. The minimum requirement was 35 pounds. I rucked with 40,” said Cadet Jacob Roberts, Florida State University, Tampa, Fla. “The Army standard for these ruck marches is typically 35. That’s about the weight you’ll carry out to the field, depending on whatever mission you conduct.”
The ruck must weigh a minimum of 35-pounds for multiple reasons.
“The reason for packing it is because, when we’re in the field, we normally have to carry our equipment with us, which the ruck sac is usually how we carry everything around and ruck marches are a way to train and be used to carrying it,” stated 2nd Lt. Bryce Nieberger.
The 12-mile course is not on a track, but on Fort Knox’s hill filled roads and trails. Some of these hills are steep and are quite challenging for most. Cadets must put themselves to this physical and mental test of toughness and endurance.
“For me, it’s the hills, but it’s also a mental game. It’s a big mental game. After you hit the halfway point and you’re going to around miles seven, eight, nine and we’re getting on these big hills, it’s a mental game. You have to push through the pain. Your body is hurting and you want to quit,” said Cadet and RECONDO candidate Jacob Martin, Colorado State University, Castle Rock, Colo.
Roberts stated that the challenging parts included, “The elevation and yourself. You, yourself, have to push that mental obstacle. You have each mile to go. You keep seeing that marker of mile one, mile two, mile three and you think to yourself, ‘I’ve got eight more’ or ‘I’ve got nine more’. It’s really tough and when you put it on yourself, you start slowing down because you’re playing that mental game. You’re throwing obstacles on yourself and you just start slowing down.”
To get through these challenges, Cadets employed a few different methods and turned toward certain things for encouragement.
“I turn to religion a little bit. I have a cross that I carry in my uniform and I sing some religions songs in my head. Mine’s in my other coat. It’s my grandpa’s cross. He was in the Air Force, but I got his cross when I was in my church. So, it was just a calling memento to keep with me,” said Martin. “It’s something that I’ve had that helped me get through a lot of this.”
“I think the two big things I lean on the most are my faith and my friends. So, just sending little prayers here and there asking God to just help me push through the last few miles and putting myself in a group of motivated friends that say, ‘hey, we got this. Only a few more miles to go’. Helping me pace as well. Just, having those two little things made all the difference and helped me complete it in the three-hour time limit,” said Roberts.
In the end, Cadets were grateful toward one another for getting each other through this challenge.
“I probably couldn’t have made it through without my battle buddies. These people, that I’ve been with, have been like my family for the past 68 days. They’ve made it all worth it. We’ve all helped each other,” said Martin.
They also offered advice for Cadets who will face this same challenge mile by mile in the future.
“Prep yourself prior. Get ready rucking, get ready physically, get ready mentally. Then, once you get here, give it your all. I know when I go home, my body is broken down right now I’m so tired, but there are other people who are more tired than I am and a lot worse off,” stated Martin.
“For future Cadets who are getting ready for Advanced Camp, perfect those basic Soldier skills. You’ll come in with so much confidence just knowing that, ‘hey, I know land navigation. I know I can shoot. I know I can rappel’. Those little things are just things that will boost your confidence, and then you just need to execute them when you get to camp,” said Roberts. “You, yourself, are the hardest obstacle.”
Cadet Summer Training brings 8,200 Cadets through Basic and Advanced Camp this summer on Fort Knox. These camps are designed to help challenge, grow and improve various skills and leadership qualities within the Cadets. If you think you have what it takes to be a Cadet or if you are interested in a job after college click the following link: https://my.goarmy.com/info/rotc1/index.jsp?iom=IP08-AUTO-R1NA-BR-XXX-XX-XXX-MO-XX-X-BRCMAC:IP08