2009 EPISODE 7 of 12: FOOT MARCH
Soldiers must conduct a foot march at night for an unknown distance while carrying an M4 rifle and a 60-pound rucksack on their backs.
Fort Benning, Georgia, Combs Field, the starting location of the Foot March. TCS conduct a foot march at night for an unknown distance while carrying your M4 rifle and a 60-pound ruck on your back.
SFC Gerald L. Nelson: "The temperature, up around the high 80s, low 90s, so that's really affecting them. We've already lost five teams and may lose two or three more before the start of that competition.
Up to this point, these guys have shot multiple ranges, they've shot three different stress shoot ranges. And then, move over to expedient leader carry event, and once they've completed that, they move into the holding area for the road march. A road march as everyone knows, is the separator. Separates the men from the boys, it will let you know who the contenders and the pretenders are."
SFC Ryan Taylor: "Physically, right now, most of these guys are pretty drained, probably some minor dehydration to some major dehydration."
For the teams that decided to push through the midday heat this may have been costly.
SFC William E. Greenwood: "The heat was really taking a lot of guys out. As of this point, my partner is not feeling so good right now. He is trying to get a medic, to look him out, to check him out. I don't know how it's looking right now."
SFC Gerald L. Nelson: "Now they're starting to cramp up cause there is no more fluid in any of their muscles so with the heat and everything that they have been through today, a lot those guys who didn't know what they were coming or getting into are starting to cramp up and starting to reach heat exhaustion. And some of them are actually falling out of the competition."
Team 8, who started the day in first place only to fall to 18th on the Darby Queen, are now back in striking distance in third place.
SSG Brandan K. Farmer: "On the run this morning, everybody took off. I felt great and he felt great and we just kept going, and we were in the front, you know. And then, got down there, hit the swamp, it was really cold, so everything slowed down dramatically. We expected to win Darby Queen until we got to the top of the hill and they were like, 'Hey, three minutes, Darby Queen!' And we were like, already still maxed out, we took off on that. Apparently we got a decent time, but it was three minutes slower than what we did before." SSG Luke R. McDowell: "I cramped up really bad, and he actually dragged me across the finish line."
SSG Brandan K. Farmer: "It's been an interesting day. We didn't expect to win the first run, that's for sure. Couple knots, but I think we'll be alright.
SSG Luke R. McDowell: "I feel miserable."
Now that the last team has arrived in the holding area, the competitors only have 30 minutes until the start of the road march.It's now after midnight and the start of the Separator is just minutes away. Some of these Rangers are here to win it, while others are just trying to hold on so they can say that they've finished a "Best Ranger."
SFC Ryan Taylor: "A lot of these guys will go down tonight due to the heat, and it's because they do have that Ranger mentality that you just don't quit."
Standing in the dark with their M4 Rifles and a 60-pound pack, they are poised for the unknown because once the horn sounds the start of the Separator, these competitors have no idea for how long or how far they will have to march.
SFC Ryan Taylor: "I know how long it could be, I know how long it could go on to. I mean it can go up to as much as thirty miles. Guys don't know, so they just walk until they're told to stop."
This is the unknown factor that will test these Rangers to their very core.
SFC Ryan Taylor: "Last year they had guys, quite a few of them, pretty severe heat injuries or heat-related injuries who ended up in the hospital for a couple of days because of it."
By the conclusion of the road march, half of these competitors will have been eliminated.
SFC Chad E.W. Stackpole: "Our strategy was to come out with a nice slow trot, and to see what the competition, see what the field, to see how hard they were all going to push themselves. And once we seen the pace, we picked up with that group there and the team that actually came into second was doing the same thing with us. They just followed us along and pushed us. The closer they got, the more we moved out on them and then we end up just coming down to a foot race at the end of it. And we took it on in for the home team."
Stackpole and Simms were able to hold off Zajkowski and Jenkins to win the Captain Russell B. Rippetoe trophy for the road march.
Next on BRC 2009, day two of the Best Ranger Competition: Rescue a downed pilot and a test of your first-responder medical skills.
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