News: KFOR soldiers face summer heat during DANCON march
Story by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen
CAMP NOVO SELO, Kosovo – Twenty-five kilometers of uneven terrain, sparse shade and scorching sun; that is what Multinational Battle Group-East soldiers faced during the Danish Contingency March July 20 at Camp Novo Selo.
"It's a good team morale builder," said U.S. Army Spc. Mike Ellis, a soldier with Joint Regional Detachment- East. “It brings everyone together in one place so we can all have fun and have a good day."
The DANCON is a Danish Army tradition that began in 1972 and is continued wherever the Danish Army is deployed. The terrain varies for each march based on location. Camp Novo Selo's march took participants across farm land and through small villages. Participants had six hours to complete the 25 km (15.5 mile) course carrying a minimum load of 10 kg (22 lbs).
It is a tradition to invite all foreign troops working with the Danish armed forces to participate.
"Working with multinational partners has been the greatest thing," said Danish Armed Forces Sgt. Jonas Riddersborg, who was first to cross the finish line with a final time of two hours and eight minutes.
"The greatest part has been when I was at the turning point to run back," Riddersborg said. "All the nationalities were cheering, high-fiving, and giving me thumbs up. That was the best feeling."
This was the first DANCON March held for Kosovo Forces 17.
"It's a fun thing to do," said U.S. Army Sgt. Austin Miller, who works in the engineer section for MNBG-E. "I got to do something you don't get to do back home."
U.S. Army Pfc. Andres Montenegro, a soldier with Company C, 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, finished fifth overall and was the first U.S. soldier to finish.
"For me I am very happy I finished first for the United States, fifth in the 760 [participants] and I’m very proud of myself," Montenegro said.
For Montenegro, being older was not a deterrent. He said it is about determination and hard work.
"I’m 30 years old and I like to push myself," Montenegro said.
He added that although he did not train for the event, it was very challenging.
"I was worried because I started to have cramps the last 2 kilometers, more or less the last mile," Montenegro said. "I just continued and just kept going."
Everyone was eager to participate in the Danish tradition, but there was one general focus:
"To make it and not die," Miller said.
Everyone who participated and finished in the allotted time earned the Danish Contingent March Medal, a bronze-colored medal with a red and white-striped ribbon. The Danish plan to host another march in October for KFOR soldiers.