Deployed Soldiers conquer grueling road march

Task Force Sinai
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval

Date: 12.08.2014
Posted: 12.12.2014 09:16
News ID: 150166
Deployed Soldiers conquer grueling road march

EL GORAH, Egypt – After 17 years of military service, a deployment to Iraq and now Egypt, Maj. Jeffrey Phillipy recently faced the toughest physical challenge of his career.

Phillipy joined more than 80 service members from 14 nations currently serving in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with the Multinational Force and Observers to vie for the coveted Norwegian Ruck March badge.

“This is one of the most demanding events I’ve done… it will test what you are truly made of,” said Phillipy.

Hosted by members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team and members of the Norwegian military, the event is a grueling 30-kilometer ruck march carrying at least 11 kilograms. To make things more challenging, each participant must cross the finish line within an allotted amount of time, which is dependent upon age and gender.

To meet this time standard, the Soldiers sprinted from the starting line, eager to make their mark, but it wasn’t long before the strides shortened and paces slowed.

“Lap one felt very easy and I was extremely excited,” said Minnesota native, Sgt. Terry Wosmek. “Lap two blended with lap one, I couldn’t really distinguish the difference then lap three was when I began to feel some aches in my shoulders and I began to feel a bit fatigued. On the last lap I knew this was the last time I would see parts of the course and I started to say, ‘this is our last time running from this guard tower to the next one’.”

Much like Wosmek, Staff Sgt. Monica Marks, who took home the best time for the women’s category with 3 hours, 49 minutes, raced from the starting line only to ‘hit a wall’ around the final lap.

“On the last lap I was done, I could not run any longer,” said Marks. “All I could do was not stop because if I did I would not have gotten up.”

Unlike Marks, some gave in to the urge to stop and were unable to finish. Out of the 84 hopefuls only 69 participants finished the grueling feat in the allotted time and while many of them did it for the badge many found the motivation to finish from their multinational counterparts.

“I thought maybe the other multi-national Soldiers would be competitive but for most of the ruck I was side by side with them,” said Marks. “I had Canadian Soldiers encouraging me to keep up then when I couldn’t keep up I fell in line with a Soldier from the Czech Republic followed by a Colombian… it was motivating.”

Regardless of where they found their motivation the participants who completed the event within the standards received one of three types of badges based on age and number of times successfully completed - bronze, silver and gold.

“As soon as you cross the finish line the pain goes away, because you know you conquered a demanding obstacle,” said Phillipy.

The MFO Force sergeant major, Jules Moreau crossed the finish line first, breaking the event’s record with a time of 2 hours and 45 minutes. His efforts left other hopefuls chomping at the bits for the next Norwegian Road March scheduled to be held in March.

I plan on completing this event again in March; I am hoping to cut 49 minutes off of my time so I can complete it in three hours flat,” said Marks.

“I will be there again in March,” said Phillipy echoing Marks’ anticipation. “There is always room for improvement.”

The Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) is and independent peacekeeping organization which is headquartered in Rome and based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Created by agreement between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel it is comprised of military members and from 14 nations. Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdon, the United States and Uruguay contribute contingents to make up the MFO's Force.