On Saturday Nov. 10, hoards of civilians and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) soldiers will make a perilous 30 km trek across Michigan’s north woods.
On the way they, will have to cross rivers, rappel down cliffs, pull a weighted sled, canoe across a lake, and compete in a World’s Strongest Man style log toss.
They will all be taking place in the Frozen Chosin Endurathon, an event NMU ROTC is bringing back to Northern after a year hiatus.
The race is held in memory of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.
In the battle, 3,000 American troops fought a 120,000-man Chinese force in bitter cold temperatures reportedly reaching 50 degrees below zero.
The event will feature four-person teams competing in a 30 km march along the Nequomenon ski trail north of Marquette.
This year, the event will be open to both ROTC teams and teams comprised of members who are not currently in the armed forces.
“When we did this two years ago, it was a great event,” Capt. Jay Smith, the event’s organizer, said. “Everyone loved it.”
The last time the event occurred, it was a 26.2 mile march that was only open to teams from various ROTC colleges across the Midwest.
“We decided that if we were going to do this, then let’s really make it worth our while. Get the community involved in it, get the school involved in it,” Smith said. “Not just recruit for [the ROTC] but also recruit for the school.”
Smith said the event format needed to be changed in order to draw interest from community members.
The event organizers shortened the race to 30 km, or just around 18 miles. They have also added five adventure obstacles to the course.
“It’s hard to just go and convince someone to walk through the woods for 26 miles and call it a day”, Jay Smith said. “So that’s where we added all the events, made it more of an adventure race.”
The events that were added include crossing the Dead River on a one-rope-bridge, rappelling, dragging a sled with a 250-pound mock casualty dummy, canoeing across a lake, and lifting a telephone pole.
“The hardest events are going to be the sled pull and the canoeing,” Ted Lind, an NMU ROTC student who will be competing on Saturday, said. “It’s going to be difficult to do it after all the events.”
A recent snowfall and forecasts calling for temperatures in the upper 30s will add to the difficulty of this year’s event and pay homage to the chilly temperatures of the event’s namesake.
“[The cold weather] will definitely show who is mentally tough, and who is not,” Lind said.
So far, the event has drawn in four or five teams of non-ROTC competitors, Smith said. They will join 22 ROTC teams from universities across Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Included will be teams from the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Purdue, and various other Midwest schools.
The last time that the event occurred, there were only a handful of ROTC teams.
“It’s not bad. We were hoping for some more, but we did get some interest. In the last few days (before the race), we are hoping that a couple more (teams) will pop up,” Smith said. “We wish we had more, but it’s not a bad start”
Lind said that despite the increase in competition at this year’s event he feels that the teams from Northern will still put up a very good showing in the competition.
“I was on the team that won two years ago, but there are a lot more team this year than then, so it’s going to be harder,” Lind said. “We will be really competitive, though.”
A trophy presentation will be held during Saturday’s hockey game against Western Michigan.
All competitors in the Frozen Chosin will be given free tickets to Saturday’s game.
The start and finish line for this year’s event will be behind the Superior Dome.
To register a team for the event visit www.active.com before Nov. 10.