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Old 08-26-2009, 07:18 PM   #1
Ryan King
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Bataan Advice

I am wanting to do the Bataan Death March at White Sands Missile Range in March. I have been CFing for about 2 months (doing scaled main page WOD's), and I am seeing good results, but I am wondering if I should do more to prepare.
The Bataan Death March is in memorial of US troops in the Phillippines, and is a 26.2 mile course over trail and through sand. To my understanding, the elevation change is about 1500 feet over the course, and, I am currently at about 300 feet, and it starts at 4000. I have two basic questions. What should I do to best prepare for this kind of trek, and I was wondering if anyone has any advice as to what type of footwear would be good for that kind of distance and terrain. Also, I will be carrying a 35 pound pack. Anyway, I would appreciate any advice that you guys had. Thanks!
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:04 PM   #2
Joshua Murphy
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Re: Bataan Advice

Good luck Ryan...moving this to "competitions" for a better chance at getting some responses...
If you don't push yourself, who will?

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Old 09-17-2009, 04:23 PM   #3
Stephen Foster
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Re: Bataan Advice

I have not done this race, but have trained for it several times with guys in my Company (Indiana Army National Guard) that went together as a team and won it several years in a row. They all said it was hotter than Hell!

What category are you thinking of entering? We had a light team and a heavy team, but I trained with the military heavy team.

The MOST important thing for you do is to prepare your feet for this mission which means you definitely need to ruck...a lot. Just doing the WODs will leave you lame for at least a few days with bloody feet. Not fun. Ruck at least once/wk, maybe twice. Try not to do less than 3 miles to start with and try to keep your time less than 15 min/mile.

The boots we wore varied from person to person, but lots of us (including me) wore Garmont T8 boots ( (WFS link). Some of us had Sole insoles too. You will also want to get a Camelbak if you don't already have one. We also used a Large ALICE ruck.

There are also some survival tips and training schedules at (WFS link).
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:27 PM   #4
Mike Romo
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Re: Bataan Advice

I've done this event twice. Won our Civilian Coed Heavy division first time, DNF second time.

Reason for DNF was poor footwear choice.

Wear good boots with lots of miles on them!!!

If you enter heavy division, get a good pack and ruck a lot. Varied terrain including pavement, hard pack dirt, very loose sand, hills, etc. This is not a course for the faint of heart and is worse than the brochure makes it out to be.

Weather can be very chilly in the early morning, turning warmer and can be quite hot by end of day. Wind can be a still day, breeze, or sandstorm weather. This is the best time of year for this event, so when you get there, just remember, it can ALWAYS be worse.

Electrolyte solutions are essential to maintaining proper muscle function. I always get cramps in my calves--start drinking it early in the race and continue throughout.

Refreshments along route are usually bananas, oranges and water and gatorade. Partake as needed, especially the bananas. You will sweat your potassium out rapidly.

Expect and prepare for blisters. You should understand your feet pretty well by race time from lots of rucking. You should have a handle on where you get hotspots and blisters. Get familiar with moleskin and molefoam and benzoin tincture to keep the sticky stuff on your feet. Carry a small roll of duct tape for emergency repairs of demolished feet.

Get some good socks, shop REI or places like that for stuff like smartwool, etc. DO NOT wear cotton socks--your feet will turn to hamburger.

Get yourself a stopwatch or even better, a GPS to keep track of your pace, time, and distance.

Civilian divisions allow trekking poles--some use them, some don't. If you do, make sure you take road tips as a long ascent and descent is on asphalt.

If this isn't enough info, please PM me and we can exchange more info.


This is a memorial march in remembrance of the brave men who were surrendered in the Bataan peninsula after being on 1/4 rations for many days and were already starved and weak. They were marched around 62 miles and many were beaten or bayoneted to death for failing to keep up. No matter how tough the march gets, do not quit. It kills me all the time to think I dropped out because I made a bad footwear choice and was afraid I would do enough damage to my feet to keep me off the job for a long period of time. In retrospect, I should have just taped them up and kept at it.

Good luck and know that this will be a spiritual experience for you. It was for me.
I train because my kids and my wife are my world.
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:22 AM   #5
Heidi Estrada
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Re: Bataan Advice

Hi Ryan,

I'm posting my reply in two posts, as it's too long to fit into one. I apologize up front for the lengthiness.

Part I of II

I read your post because I, too just started CF recently. I marched in the Bataan Memorial Death March my first time this past March 2009. It was a life-changing event for me -- I promise you'll love every second of it. Whatever effort or sacrifices you make in order to prepare and march, it is WORTH IT.

So, to get to your questions:

Your question:
I am wanting to do the Bataan Death March at White Sands Missile Range in March. I have been CFing for about 2 months (doing scaled main page WOD's), and I am seeing good results, but I am wondering if I should do more to prepare.

My answer:
I do think you should do more. I didn't know what CF was when I was preparing last year, so I can't say what it will or won't do for you. I am going to find out this year because I'm incorporating CF into my regimen for the first time.

As for what else I think you should do ... march/hike ... a lot. Just like anything else you want to excel in (if you want to improve your push ups, do push ups), you have to do that thing to get better at it. Doing the other things can't be overlooked, they are also highly important and necessary. But actually marching to prepare is critical.

Like others mentioned, foot care/blister prevention is key. I put a lot of focus on this and it paid off. My feet were none the worse for wear when I finished and it had everything to do with preparation as well as in-course care.

My regimen last year worked quite well, so I'll be replicating much of it and then using CF as well.

Here are the categories I marched under:
26.2 mile
Heavy (finished with 43 lbs - weight went as high as 55 lbs with water load)
Civilian (I'm Army IRR, but not being in a unit, had to go civilian)
Individual (couldn't get 5 peeps to suffer with me ... hoping to change this)

My personal stats:
5' tall, 122 lbs, female, age 42
My sole marching experience prior to this were road marches compliments of the US Army, basic training -- Ft Knox, KY -- in 1987.

My training environment:
Austin, Texas
Hot - temps here went into the mid-high 80s starting in December last year.
Elevation - ~ 500 ft
Humidity - 60% - 85% average yearly
Terrain - gentle, rough, rolling hills, flat trails - varied

My regimen last year and my plans for this year:
Last year -
1. Assessment - I put on a ruck with 20 lbs in it, found a flat trail (Town Lake in Austin), and marched till I hurt. I got 15 miles. I gave myself a few days to see what hurt and needed work. My feet had a blister that grew from a hot spot in my shoe - got that about mile 12. The back of my knee (knee pits?) hurt and my butt hurt. My upper back, between shoulder blades, also hurt. All pain on scale of 1-10 was about a 5. Not bad. I was also SLOW.

2. I needed to work on speed, pace, foot care, strength of posterior chain & core, legs, back. Endurance was solid.

3. Your question:
I was wondering if anyone has any advice as to what type of footwear would be good for that kind of distance and terrain.
My answer:
I struggled with blisters until I got the right foot wear. I ended up going with Bates USMC boots, desert, made for long haul with a load. I also chose Vasques trail runner shoes. I swapped these out half way through each march and was very pleased. The shoes allowed me to run comfortably. The boots gave me blisters if I ran in them. My foot dressing for the marches was layered as such: in the shoe/boot = Sole (blue ones). On my feet = body glide, panty hose footy thing (yes, the men wear these, too), sock (I went with cotton because wool makes me get burning little bumps). MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NO GORETEX in your shoes - it will trap the sweat, making your feet wetter and cause blisters. GORETEX = PAIN. I made a blister kit as well to treat any hot spots while marching - I'll send you the list of its contents. Every one hour on each march I made a pit stop and changed the panty hose footy and sock, then reapplied the body glide to my entire foot. This routine kept me from having ANY blisters after my first month of training, including during the entire march.

To be continued in Part II of II ...

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Old 10-07-2009, 07:23 AM   #6
Heidi Estrada
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Re: Bataan Advice

Hi Ryan,

Here's my second part - then I'll stay quiet and stop clogging up the board for a while!

4. Your question:
What should I do to best prepare for this kind of trek, Also, I will be carrying a 35 pound pack.
My answer:
My workouts consisted of the following:
1 day per week: Speed work. Put on the full load and find some small rolling hills (my hills were about 15% grade with a length of ~ 20 meters base to top). Run UP the hills, march down or on the flat between hills. Do this for 2 hours. Equipment: I started at 20 lbs and increased the weight by 5 lbs every 2 weeks until I was at 35 lbs. I then increased every 3 weeks for strength training and endurance. My thought was - altitude will take away my oxygen and hurt my strength and endurance. If I'm used to lots more weight than is required, the 35 lbs at march time will be that much easier. My last month of training, I was carrying ~ 60 lbs. This included: 35 lbs of weight plates, 2 water bladders @ 3 L each (6 lbs full apiece), 4 pair of socks, 4 pair of panty hose footies, body glide, blister kit, snacks (almonds, blueberries, banana chips), shoes (wore boots for starting, changed to shoes midway), iPod Touch, sunscreen, sunglasses.

2. 2 days a week: strength training. Put on the pack with whatever weight you're currently using. Do a variety of these (change weight, duration, number - keep it changing at every workout): lunges, squats, iron Mike's (like a Burpee, but you jump down into a lunge position and then jump back up), ball maneuvers (I put a ball on the ground by my right foot - squatted and picked it up, then threw it against a wall to my right, caught it and squatted back down to my left foot and put it on the ground), push ups (I scaled this by using a bench or short wall to push up on, never could do a ground push up with over 25 lbs on), Australian pull ups (bar = waist high. your body = 45 degree angle). Put the pack on backwards - holding it in front - and do squats and lunges. I also went into my gym (gasp - globo gym) and did back extensions, reverse crunches, windshield wipers (abs - look em up - HARD as hell), shoulder presses, hand stand push ups (assisted - used weight bar to put feet on help pull myself up), and used the HOT TUB. Yay hot tub!

3. 1 day a week - long march day. Put on the ruck with currently using weight. Set a distance - I started at 15 miles and increased by 2 1/2 - 5 miles every few weeks until I hit 20 and could do that without hurting. Keep your pace, get your stride going and just go. Stop every 1 hour for pit stop to change socks and get your snack in hand & refill water bladders. Use potty. I sometimes rested at the halfway mark for about 15 minutes. Otherwise, march and pit stop only.

4. In between days - I stretched and walked. I didn't do NEARLY enough stretching. My hip flexors, upper back and IT bands were super tight. Still are, actually. (My squats are a series of faults ... working on that).

5. I started training in December and kept up this schedule until about 3 weeks before the march. I scaled back to only 5 mile long marches and that was about it. I didn't scale the weight training, speed work or weight in the ruck. I felt well rested and strong on march day.

5B. Training alteration. My training partner is a Marine and is also preparing to deploy to war with a 120 lb or more load carrying requirement, as well as needing to be able to traverse rough Afghanistan type terrain. So about partway through the training (end of January), we started carrying super heavy loads and marching through impossibly rough terrain (think: goat trails, rocks, steep inclines). This slowed down our time and thus decreased out distance.

The training alteration is important to note if you are competing for time. I was marching at about 5 miles per hour (20 miles in 5 hours with natural pace slow down over time/distance plus pit stops) by mid january. After changing our weight/terrain and slowing down considerably, my times got waaaay slower. I didn't care because my partner's mission / objectives were the more important focus and we weren't about to cheat him out of that needed training. As I wasn't competing for time (didn't care how long it took), I was overjoyed at how strong and comfortable the whole march was for me - albeit slow.

6. Nutrition. I am a vegetarian, so you'll want to consider proper lean meats if you're a meat eater. I used whey and made protein shakes, plus added ice cream for protein and fat. I ate carbs like pasta and rice immediately after my workouts (about 1 cup of carbs like that) and a protein item. I otherwise ate mostly veggies (green, leafy &/or colorful), fruit (1 piece at each meal), dairy (cheese, mainly. I don't like milk). Lots of berries, a little oatmeal. Nuts, nuts, nuts - I am an almond fiend, so I didn't branch out. I heard macadamia are good. I did this about 80% of the time and then got stupid the other 20% or so of the time (pancakes, pizza, beer ... ). My energy was high, my soreness & lactic acid situation was fine - little to none. I got nice musculature and quite lean. Went down 2 clothing sizes, though legs, shoulders and butt increased in size. Awesome!!

Altitude prep - like you, I came from a low altitude environment and had a healthy respect for the White Sands Missile Range altitude. To prepare, I made sure my training took me on altitude changes, however big I could find. I would march hills and find as many ways to change my altitude during a training session. I got a little crazy and also trained with cotton stuffed in my nose so I could train with decreased oxygen. Don't know if this helped or just got me a reputation as an IQ test failure .... I did get on the treadmill (gasp! globo gym) and put it on the highest incline I could, then went for 2 hours. I wanted to have a way to work myself at a steep incline for duration and had no other way.

Equipment - I took my ruck frame and medium ruck, then went to Tactical Tailor online and made the following modifications: kidney pads, shoulder straps, fastex buckles, 2 built-in water pockets (for 3 liter camelback water bladders). Your ruck will make all the difference, do this. It's worth the money.

Extra tip - Boudreaux Butt Paste. Laugh now or chafe later. It's the best and you'll be glad you did it. Enough said.

3. For this year's prep ... not too sure. Still figuring that out. I'll start training in December again. I'm doing CF right now, with running on off-days (running for 30-60 minutes to work on endurance and keep the feet/legs conditioned without overuse). I'm also adding more core focus to my workouts in addition to the WOD at my CF gym. I went to the CF Level I cert a few weekends back, the head coach there said to keep up CF and incorporate the march training, then slowly switch to more march training and less CF as the event gets nearer. Keep doing both until about 2 weeks before the march, then do only march training - scaled at that point. It looks like a sound plan, so I'm going to try that.

Let me know if you come up with good workouts or regimen. I'm up for trying new stuff and really want to see how CF works with this. I can say for sure that my upper back, shoulders and legs have increased strength with CF, even with all the strength work I did last year (I frankly am a weakling in the CF gym - even with all my prior strength work - it's a big improvement). I'm looking forward to my march training to see how it differs from last year.

Good luck and email me any time!

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Old 10-07-2009, 07:34 AM   #7
Heidi Estrada
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Re: Bataan Advice

Okay, last thing ...

As this is a memorial march, we are acknowledging what these soldiers went through with our own blood, sweat and tears. Remember when your training or the march gets mind-numbing or painful that this is when you are truly paying respects to these men. That thought made me grateful for the times when the discomfort was at its worst, then I could finally give something of worth. Sometimes that's what it took to keep going when I'd rather be doing something relaxing.

Now I'll stop clogging the forum.

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