In 1942, anywhere from 76,000 to 100,000 American and Filipino POWs were marched for days without food or water for fear of being executed by their Japanese captors across the Bataan peninsula. Thousands of them died.
Every year at the White Sands Missile Range outside Las Cruces, NM, a march is held in memory of those individuals so that we can honor their sacrifice for us to enjoy the liberties and freedoms we have today. The website is Bataan March
I am a Kansas Air National Guardsman. I participated on a team as the "Military Light" category, though you can go as a civilian.
This is an entry in the Burning Questions: team-building contest
Step 1: Team it up
Your team will help you train, keep you focused and most importantly support you to the finish.
Many of the original Bataan POWs marched alongside others and did not experience the support needed to keep themselves alive.
Step 2: Training for death and beating it
Do your homework. Find out if someone you know has done something similar. Search the internet. Bataan March
Develop a training plan. I recommend a plan that starts out walking a few miles a few days a week and progresses to longer and more frequent walks. My training plan for next year will resemble the attached Excel spreadsheet.
Probably the most important aspect of training is conditioning your body.
Diet will greatly impact your success: Picking a diet
Stew Smith is a former Seal trainer who has had great success in training people. I love his training programs.
Train with someone. I saw so many people try to do this alone and fail. A training partner will push you when you think you're done.
Step 3: Gear Up
Your gear is very important.
BOOTS: If you're going to be marching, get your boots ready. I pretreat my boots with a conditioner to soften the leather. I also wear an insole that is made of a liquid gel so that it massages my foot as I walk. Make sure you are training in the boots you're going to be marching in.
SOCKS: I cannot stress enough about the importance of good socks. Cotton-blend socks will guarantee jacked-up feet. Cotton-blend socks can never keep your feet as dry as they need to be. Even the "wick-dry" cotton blend socks will trap moisture that a wool or synthetic blend sock will pull away. I know they're expensive but worth every penny. The socks below are about $16 a pair.
Clothes: I wear synthetic shorts and underwear. Under Armor or a knockoff work wonders. I've had both and I honestly don't find much difference.
Step 4: Experience the reality of the Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Freedom is NOT free. We do not have the liberties we enjoy today because they were given to us. We had to fight to protect them. Less than 1% of our nation serve in the military, but it is because of them that we can practice our faith freely, pursue our dreams and reach them.
Place in your heart the goal and keep your focus on something greater than yourself. This will drive you to the finish line.
Step 5: One foot in front of the other...
Hydrate: You will need to drink plenty of fluids the day prior to and the day of the march. Water is essential but electrolytes are critical. You can over-hydrate and literally piss your life-saying electrolytes away.
Through the course of the march I consumed about 6 liters of water, 1 liter of gatorade, 4 oranges, 2 bananas and 3 energy bars.
Them dogs are barking! After 4 miles, our feet already needed some TLC. Changing your socks or at least letting your feet air out can mean the difference between a successful march and a day at the medic's tent.
Don't ignore the warning signs. If you start having a headache, hyhdrate. If you're hydrated, rest. You're probably overheated. Take some water and place it on your head. Try to find some shade.
Step 6: FINISH!!! Hold your head up.
Don't get me wrong. This doesn't compare 1 iota to the 1942 Bataan Death March, but it takes more out of you than a regular marathon. Not to mention, you did it in boots.
The human spirit is profoundly resilient, and if you entertain that resiliency, the results are phenomenal. The human body, however, will challenge your every step.
Our team grew after we finished. Our respect for each other grew and when we deploy I can guarantee that this experience will strengthen our resolve all the more.
There are few things a team can do to strengthen itself than to be forged by the fire of physical strife.