Norwich joins 5K run aiming at a record-breaking celebration of ROTC

042615_ROTC_Record Run (68 of 71)Skip Davison sat in his office, explaining with enthusiasm how Norwich University came to join a 5k run on April 25 that aimed to try and break a Guinness World Record.

ROTC units and Junior ROTC (JROTC) units from all around the U.S. and the world conducted the first annual ROTC and JROTC 5k (3.1 mile) walk/run event in celebration of the founding of the program, right here at Norwich University 99 years ago.

Davison, the Director of Recruitment at Norwich University, said the event was “in celebration of the 99th anniversary of (Army) ROTC and JROTC” and it was run at high schools, colleges, universities, communities, military bases and units and included students, staff, faculty, family and alumni of Norwich worldwide.

“For a decade or more, there’s been a foundation called College Options that has sponsored what’s called the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl,” Davison said.

There are over 4,000 JROTC units that exist in the United States and around the world, Davison said. These units create teams and compete in competitions through College Options, he said.

“Part of it this year is, as we know, is that in 1916 with the passage of the National Defense Act, ROTC and Junior ROTC became law in the country,” Davison said. “It became important for us to become involved with this company.”

Norwich is the birthplace of ROTC and a fitting host as the oldest private military college in the United States. The event was monitored by Guinness World Records and took place at noon last Saturday, with runners and walkers launched by the blast of the NU cannon at the start line at Shapiro Field House..

The race drew participants from all over. “All (of) these units and cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans, Fort Benning, Georgia, Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, they’re all sponsoring runs,” Davison noted.

Using video technology, JROTC cadets and communities around the world were able to run simultaneously and interact with the other domestic and international units. All runners from the USA to Korea to Europe, and all participating units in between, were able to link to other runners.

No matter where each race is being held on the globe, they all started simultaneously, Davison explained. This first annual 5k is a test run for the bicentennial next year, Davison said.

“It’s a dry run for the biggie, for the 100th anniversary. This year we invited Norwich and Northfield,” Davison said. “If we do that and all goes well, then next year, we’ll invite the state of Vermont.”

A lot of people registered for the race, Davison said, drawn in part by the attempt to break a record.

“That’s what this is about: to break a Guinness record. Hopefully over 350,000 people around the world will run 5 kilometers at the same time,” Davison said.

In order for next year’s race to happen and be much larger, this year’s has to be a success. “Next year, if all goes well, they’re going to try and do it for the 100th anniversary of ROTC and Junior ROTC and get over a million people to participate,” Davison said.

The ROTC celebration run has already gotten media coverage.

“We’ve already had a CBS Sports News affiliate out of Atlanta, Ga.,that came to Norwich, interviewed Gen. Sullivan and then interviewed five of our senior cadets who are all on ROTC scholarships,” Davison said.

From these interviews and also from the day of the race, a documentary will be made, Davison said.

“There will be another CBS affiliated news crew here on that day that will be out talking to people. We have to take photographs, we have to have a video camera on the start and finish point, it has to run continuously and be date and time stamped,” Davison explained.

A map of the course, along with all of these other pieces of information, has to be sent in to the Guinness World Records to document the event for the record, Davison said.

Along with supporting ROTC and JROTC, “the Commanding General from the Army’s Cadet Command, has designated April as the Stomp Out Sexual Assault month and that’s going to be part of this,” Davison said.

While at the start line, the participants will get a short briefing on sexual assault prevention, Davison said. “You’re also helping to support this.”

There are a lot of parts and people involved with this race, Davison said, but thanks to their widespread efforts, Norwich does not have to pay anything for the event to take place, Davison said.

The cost of the race and all of the fees are covered by College Options, Davison said.

The Norwich race, along with Norwich and Northfield, also has many other participants.

“Our run and walk here, we have the Marine Corps Junior ROTC unit out of Lynn, Massachusetts, Lynn English High school. What’s significant about that is that’s where Jack Abare graduated from,” Davison said.

Two Air Force JROTC units are also participating, coming out of Coventry, R.I. and another from Essex, Vt.

Hopes are high for the event to be even bigger next year, Davison said.

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