Grueling Norwegian Foot March draws 200 challengers

  • Published
  • By Ashley Richards
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Over 200 military members and civilians gathered before sunrise April 6 to participate in the Norwegian Foot March at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, hosted by the 88th Security Forces Squadron.

The Norwegian Foot March is a challenging 18.6-mile ruck march, with participants carrying a 25-pound rucksack. To earn the Marsjmerket, a Norwegian armed forces skills badge, individuals must complete the course within a set time limit based on age and gender.

Over 25 base volunteers ensured the smooth running of the event, assisting with setup, check-in, and hydration and snack stations along the route.

Maj. Arild Stangenes, the Air Force Security Assistance Center’s Norwegian foreign liaison officer, spoke to participants prior to the road march, providing event history and a few pieces of advice.

“The Norwegian Foot March originated in 1915, where it was used as an endurance test for Norwegian soldiers to meet a goal of moving large units of troops over a great distance in a manner that enabled them to be combat-ready,” he said. “Today will be a test of your strength and endurance. You have approximately 40,000 steps ahead of you, so take it one step at a time.”

Stangenes has participated in more than 10 traditional foot marches himself and acts as Norwegian representative, ensuring the base adheres to established procedures.

“It is a fantastic challenge,” he added. “You may experience physical and mental roadblocks throughout the ruck, but it’s all worth it once you pass the finish line.”

Col. Sean Brazel, 88th Mission Support Group commander, also spoke to participants before the start, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and international partnerships.

“The march not only is an opportunity to promote physical fitness in a unique way, but it is also a way to continue building a strong relationship with our Norwegian partners,” he said. “We have a great mix of active-duty and veteran participants from every service branch. This is fantastic way to get together, build camaraderie and exemplify the partnerships we have.”

The 88th Security Forces Squadron hosted the first Norwegian Foot March on the installation in 2023. This year’s event saw a 300% increase in participants.

“This year’s event turnout was fantastic,” said Staff Sgt. Martin Davis, 88 SFS flight sergeant and event coordinator. “We hope to continue hosting the Norwegian Foot March, increasing involvement on the installation each year.”

Members who successfully completed the ruck march within their time limit may display the Norwegian skills badge on military dress uniforms above the nameplate.