How to Survive The Bataan Memorial Death March

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

31 tips to surviving the Death March

2020 will be my eighth year to march at Bataan, these tips are taken from my firsthand experience of successfully completing the 26.2-mile march for seven consecutive years. I’ve seen the carnage on the course by those who showed up ill-prepared and want to save you the pain and suffering. This is the difference between completing the march with a smile on your face and/or having to embrace the suck for 26.2 miles.  It’s all in the details! I’m sure there are circumstances and situations that I have yet to experience, so it’s likely this list will continue to grow and change with each Bataan March.  But for now, learn from my most recent mistakes.  Happy Marching.

1. Make a gear checklist! The last thing you want to do is be out on mile seven of the 26-mile march and remember that you forgot your food or sunscreen at home. Be like Santa; make a list and check it twice. Download a gear checklist here!

2. Don’t wear new shoes or boots! Make sure your boots/shoes are well broken in. I wear Rocky C4T combat boots. I burned through many brands and models before I found these boots; they are by FAR the most comfortable and a great buy for the price.

3. Stop at aid stations (if you feel like you need to stop. Stop!) Do a quick check to see if your feet need tending, grab food and water.

4. Don’t wear thick socks! I’m sure there are people who swear by wearing heavy socks or multiple layers, but I have been running in combat boots for several years now and I rarely blister. Every person I know who has worn thick or multi-layer socks has come out with huge blisters. I’ve done 30-mile races without a single blister and it’s because I wear good quality moisture-wicking socks. My boots DO NOT go on my feet without SwiftWick I swear by them!

5. Keep your feet generously covered in Glide or Vaseline. Don’t forget the tips of your toes, in-between your toes and up the leg to where your boots no longer touch. Keep one or both items in your pack.

6. Wear leg gaiters if you’re wearing running shoes. These will keep sand out of your shoes/boots.

7. Wear long compression socks if in boots. I personally wear green striped SwiftWick Vision Twelve socks; I keep them just above my boot line and they keep the sand out of my boots while keeping me blister-free.