Danny Yee >> People >> Mike Salovesh
Date:         Sun, 9 Jan 2000 03:02:33 -0600
From:         Mike Salovesh <t20mxs1@CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU>
Subject:      Re: How far

Ooops! Somehow, this message bounced yesterday. Let me try again:

"JACK T. HUGHES" <102443.3442@COMPUSERVE.COM> asked > . . . But I am more interested in learning how far a human >being can go on foot in a fixed time (carrying all water, food, and >footgear needed) under optimal conditions, say a 24-hour period, or 48, >or even longer. > >Has anyone ever heard of any such competition, for sport, or for >research? > > It should have great appeal for suicidally inclined fitness freaks.

John Graves suggested that you might ask the military.

As for me, I'm a devout pacifist. As it happens, I held that belief before, during, and after my two years of service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Nonethelesss, I can give the start of an answer to Jack's question. It used to be routine in U.S. Army basic training to have recruits do a 30-mile hike in one day, carrying full field pack (something like 50 to 60 pounds) plus rifle. The last stragglers still on their feet would usually come in about ten hours after starting; the bulk of a training company would finish 30 miles in around nine hours. (The standard marching rate is 120 paces per minute, and a standard pace is 30 inches. Allowing the Army's usual 10 minutes rest each hour, that figures out to a little under three miles per hour. Forced marches in basic training, however, included a lot of double time, 180 paces per minute, or about 4.5 mph.)

Standard infantry doctrine regarded it as daring, but just possible, to move a foot army 100 miles or thereabouts in three days and expect them to do battle shortly after arrival. Anything much faster than that was regarded as wasted effort, because the troops supposedly would be so worn out from the effort that they'd have to rest until the end of the third day anyhow before they'd be of any use in battle.

Of course, once in a rare while some really daring commander would win a battle by pushing farther in less time and attacking as soon as his troops got wherever they were going. Pursuing enemies or reinforcements would arrive so late that the battle would be over and the fast-moving raiders, victorious, would be gone.

As for me, at the peak of physical condition in my youth I wouldn't have wanted to be in any such fast-moving general's army. Not without a horse -- or a Jeep, if not a HUM-V.

But I have covered about 60 marching miles in two days, carrying full field pack and rifle, together with the whole company I started basic training with.

I was lucky. A couple of days later, I came down with pneumonia and was in the post hospital for eight days. That meant I lost the training cycle and had to transfer out of that basic training company.

By the end of the cycle, that company had set records in all directions. Their physical fitness tests were the best of any training company in the army the month they finished the cycle. As a company, they set records for marksmanship with just about all standard weapons. The company also set new records at Camp Gordon, Georgia for having the highest AWOL rate, the highest loss of trainees from the cycle due to illness, and the highest rate of trainees disciplined under Article 15 or by courts martial. (The next two succeeding 16-week cycles in that training company were pushed until they bettered those records.)

Some months after leaving basic training, I was in Korea "enjoying" the war. Well, at least I was happy to read (in the Far East edition of Army Times) that most of the officers and leading NCOs of Company B, Provost Marshal Training Center, Camp Gordon, Georgia were being court martialed, for whatever charge was equivalent to cruelty to trainees.

They deserved it. I know: that was my old company.

-- mike salovesh <salovesh@niu.edu> PEACE !!!

P.S.: Note to very old Army hands: Remember the training film "The late Company B"? I always thought the cadre of my first basic training company were moved to their wild efforts by a wish to overcome any threat of that epithet being attached to THEIR company.

P.P.S.: Let's be sensible. I still walk as much as three or four miles in a day, but that's all I'd want to depend on. On a LONG day.