If you’re reading this right now, I wager to guess that you have at least a decent idea of what the Norwegian Ruck March (also known as the Norwegian Foot March) is all about.
Even if you don’t, well, to cut to the chase…it is a tough rucking event that involves a long journey at a fast pace.
For a lot of people, it’s enough to really push themselves to endure the extreme rigors of the event. However, just in case pure intrinsic motivation isn’t quite your thing, those who complete the event actually get to take home one of the coolest pieces of award hardware in the fitness world.
Let’s cut the crap and get to the event standards and, more importantly, to the event hardware involved!
Table of Contents
What Is The Norwegian Ruck March?
The Norwegian Foot March is a rucking event with an aim to test the endurance and pure grit of those who dare to participate. Like other ruck marches, it’s primarily a military training exercise that includes walking long distances with a weighted pack.
However, the Norwegian Ruck March is no casual event, getting in some rucking with your friends. A Norwegian Foot March, requires participants to march or (run!) 18.6 miles with a 25-pound weighted ruck on their backs. They need to complete the march in anywhere from under 4:30 hours to under 6 hours, depending on their age and sex.
The fact that during one edition of the Norwegian Foot March (this one was in 2021) only 20 out of 60 participants finished shows you just how difficult this event is.
However, the challenge is worth it.
Completing the Norwegian Foot March is on the to-do list of many soldiers (amongst other rucking enthusiasts), and the completion badge awarded to finishers is a highly coveted piece of hardware. Those able to conquer the event receive a Norwegian Armed Forces skill “Marsjmerket” badge. This award is either bronze, silver, or gold, depending on the number of times the participant has completed the march.
The History Of The Norwegian Ruck March
The first Norwegian Foot March was held in Norway in 1915 (imagine that!). It was an endurance test for soldiers serving in the Norwegian Military that was intended to prepare them for the rigors they would likely face during the first World War. The intended purpose was to prepare troops to move fast over long distances with a heavy load while maintaining a combat-ready state of preparedness.
Over the years the event evolved into a popular rucking challenge for both soldiers and civilians. Various organizations hold Norwegian Foot March events with large turnouts. Some of them have a charity background and raise funds or collect food to support people in need.
The Standards Of The Norwegian Foot March
The Norwegian ruck march standards are set by the Office of the Defense Attaché of the Norwegian Embassy. Here are the detailed guidelines you should know before participating in the Norwegian ruck march event.
To successfully complete the ruck test, the participant needs to march (or run!) 18.6 miles with a 25-pound ruck/load in due time. The maximum time for completing the march depends on the participant’s sex and age:
After completing the Norwegian Ruck March, finishers are awarded a certificate, hand-signed by a military attaché in the Norwegian embassy, and a pin. The pin (or the badge) can be either bronze, silver, or gold. The bronze badge is awarded after completing one Norwegian Foot March, silver after completing a second, and golden after finishing a fifth march.
Participants can attempt the march as many times as they want, but can earn only one badge each year.
When it comes to apparel for a Norwegian Foot March event, the rules are different for military personnel and civilians.
Soldiers should wear an approved field or work military uniform and military-grade boots. The uniform has to be within the regulations throughout the ruck march.
Civilians can wear regular clothes, with regard to some rules. They should wear long pants and their boots should be at least ~3.3 lbs.
Check out our list of best boots for rucking to get your feet properly equipped for the Norwegian Ruck March.
The type of ruck to use for a Norwegian Foot March also differs for soldiers and for civilians. Soldiers need to have a military rucksack or backpack, while civilians can go with a civilian rucksack.
However, the weight inside the rucksack remains the same (25 pounds) and the weight needs to remain consistent from the beginning to the end of the march.
The event organizers/control personnel inspect participant outfits and the weights before the march begins to ensure they meet all requirements.
In the old days, participants also had to lug a rifle with them for the duration of the march. However, today, participants don’t have to carry on with them (unless they really want to!)
When it comes to weights in the rucksack, it’s common for participants to use weight/ruck plates, but there are no strict rules regarding these pieces of equipment. However, participants are encouraged to ensure that they keep the weight held high on the body and concentrate the weight symmetrically, allowing maximum mobility and comfort.
Route & Other Conditions
The route of the Norwegian Foot March should be on a good path or a dirt road, and is usually a “there and back” type of journey. In case that’s not possible, a route with multiple “laps” is also possible.
Along the route, there should be distance markers at every 5th kilometer (~3.1 miles), a minimum of 3 hydration and food stations, and several control and first aid stations.
Extreme weather conditions may prevent the event from taking place and to include temperatures above 77 and below 5 degrees (man…that is cold…but then again, I guess it is Norway!)
How To Train For The Norwegian Ruck March
Some people, like the United States Army Signal Officer Alvin Kade, walk up and complete the Norwegian ruck march without special preparation. This is not surprising since foot marches are part of military training and Army PRT protocol.
However, if you aren’t a “regular” rucker, it’s advised to train for the event. You can start with walking distances under load. Start with shorter distances and slowly increase it. You can increase your pace and add weight to your ruck as your capacity improves.
When choosing the terrain for your ruck march training, you can mimic the actual conditions of the upcoming Norwegian Ruck March event and choose a route with similar conditions. Wearing the boots and clothes you plan on wearing during the event will help you get adjusted to them and will give you a more realistic glimpse of how the real deal will feel.
You can try a rucking workout that combines rucking and dynamic exercises and make training for a Norwegian Ruck March event more…”interesting”.
Participating in other rucking events will help you to prepare for the hardships of the Norwegian Ruck March. Luckily, there are many rucking clubs and events across the USA, so you can find the nearest ones and go ruck them (and with them).
Finally, don’t forget to rest and recover before the event. It’s extremely important since the Norwegian Ruck March is a serious event and you will need to be in top form to have a shot at finishing.
Get Training, Finish the March, Get the Badge
I can’t think of a cooler piece of hardware than the Norwegian Foot March badge.
I don’t even have a proper uniform or other place to display it, but I’m seriously thinking about altering up my current training regimen in order to tackle the event sometime in the near future.
Although there are a lot of cool rucking events to take part in, there is just something about the Norwegian Ruck March that gives it this aura of…elite.
If nothing else, if I ever run into trouble in a foreign country, I wouldn’t mind running to the Norwegian embassy, showing my certificate, and demanding assistance. I know I wouldn’t really be entitled to consular support, but the Norwegians are probably too nice to kick me out.
Plus, they’d have to respect the badge!
Hit me up if you want to tackle the event together. We can even drink afterwards.