Purdue Army ROTC celebrates a more than 100-year-old tradition

The Purdue Army ROTC sponsored their second Norwegian Foot March.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — If you were driving through West Lafayette on Saturday, you might have caught a glance at members of the military.

The Purdue Army ROTC sponsored their second Norwegian Foot March.

“It was really an exercise to show you what being a soldier back then and still today is,” said Norwegian Army retiree Nils Johansen.

The tradition is more than 100 years old. The 18.6-mile race started at the Ross-Ade stadium parking lot, but there’s a catch.

“They have to do it with a 25-pound ruck,” said Cadet Battalion Commander Zachary Schroeder. “That’s something that we weigh and double-check as they come in through the finish line.”

The younger men have four hours and 30 minutes to finish the course. Younger women have five hours, and participants who are a little older get time added.

“It’s not something you can walk and do,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Scrogin. “You still got to step out and do a slow jog to meet the time standard while doing it.”

This year’s best time for the men was three hours and nine minutes. For the women, it was three hours and 53 minutes.

In just under four hours, Purdue Army ROTC member Filippo Lippi came across the finish line. He said the journey is not easy and a lot of it is mental.

“Your feet, your legs, your entire body starts hurting,” Lippi said. “You just got to tell yourself to, ya know, keep going.”

Those who finish the race and meet the time requirement earn a Norwegian Foot March Pin and foreign badge.

“When I got my first, it was really cool,” Johansen said. “And was very proud to show it off my first leave when I came back from boot camp and had it.”

Out of the 289 participants, 257 finished. Not everyone met the time requirement.