Running Big in Honor of the 200th Year

For the first time in almost 200 years, Norwich University experienced a regimental run during rook week, planned by the commandant’s staff.

Norwich has a history of trying new ideas and techniques and adapting to the times with the Corps of Cadets. For example, the university recently restructured the corps to have upperclassmen live in rook barracks.

But the latest change came with a decision to try something new that had never been done before – and it was pulled off on very short notice.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. John de Nagy, a cadet mentor here at Norwich, was the staff member who was put in charge of making sure that the project was completed, and that the correct people got the correct information.

The idea for having the whole Corps run was spawned last summer. “The regimental run came on the schedule at some point during the summer planning,” said de Nagy. He was assigned as the point of communication for the project, and he reached out to the regimental master fitness trainer Cadet Capt. Jake Drew, a senior physical education major from Houlton, Maine, to begin planning this run.

De Nagy says that the regimental run was then put on the schedule and it was set preceding the events that were the mill skills day.

The schedule for rook week was put together by Col. Patrick Gardner who collaborated with de Nagy and other commandant staff to make the event run on schedule.

The run was “a directive from the commandant’s office that was at the request of Col. Michael Titus,” said mechanical engineering senior Shane Hutchins, the Regimental S3 officer in charge (OIC), from Las Vegas, Nev. With Hutchins being the regimental S3, his job was to work on the run with the other staff members, putting together a run that everyone in the regiment would participate in.

This run was designed to motivate recruits to work towards recognition and on becoming a cadet in the corps, because they got to see the closeness and the bond between all of the other cadets in the corps while running this.

Drew’s job in planning the event was that he needed to map out a route for the run. Drew said that he met with the S3 and they came up with a route to go off campus. But that plan was later changed at the last minute, just the night prior to the run happening.

As a result, the event became an on-campus run., “The mileage for this run was about 2.6 miles” he said, due to the fact that they could not exceed the three-mile limit set.

De Nagy sent Drew a four-paragraph essay stressing the importance of the run, in which he spelled out that it was supposed to be a morale booster and not so much a focused run for improving the recruits’ fitness.

The Regimental Run, therefore, was designed with that in mind for the entire Norwich regiment itself.

Bradley Thomas, a junior criminal justice major from O’ Fallon, Ill., observed that having the entire regiment run together was “a morale booster” because that brought all the Corps out at one time. “They normally do not have the entire regiment out to do things,” said Thomas, so this event was something big and something “worth it, because it was fun, and a lot of the cadre staff had fun as well.”

While the goal of the run was clear, the school wanted it also to welcome the newest members of the corps, including the recruits, who may not know what a regimental run is.

“The FM 7-22 is the Army Field Manual, and chapter ten – Unit Formation Runs – clearly describes essentially what large unit runs are designed for,” says de Nagy.

The first line in the FM 7-22, in section 10-34, clearly states, “The UFR (unit formation runs) elicits intangible rewards gained from running with a group, such as esprit de corps, team building, and discipline.”

“The regimental run, it isn’t for PT (Physical Training), it isn’t to get smoked because it’s a ten to eleven-minute mile pace. [This run] should be a fun event,” said Drew.

According to Drew, there were only approximately six fall-outs during the run (meaning some time during that run, only six cadets or rooks could not complete the run), and that in total, there were 30 cadets with injuries that could not participate in the run.

While “the initial plan was to have the run off campus,” Hutchins said the alternative worked out well. “We were going to run into the square and to the base of Dole and back. Our requirement was that it had to be under three miles, but because we didn’t have enough time to coordinate with the local populace, to let everyone know we were running at that time, that idea got rejected when it was sent for approval, so c/COL Woods and I sat down and planned an on-campus run,” explained Hutchins.

“This was the staff’s first real taste at producing an operations order,” said Hutchins, and from talk during the after-action review that took place after the run, the leadership talked very positively about how the run turned out. This is despite a rush to accomplish the plan.

“I received the directive from Col. Titus, I got the commander’s intent from c/COL Woods, and then I just put together the plan. Usually we would go through a whole process, but we were on a short notice,” said Hutchins. The staff did not receive this event until a week before it actually it happened.

Th run was one of the first events that the regimental staff had a chance to plan and execute for the academic year. However, Hutchins noted it was a “low risk environment” because it wasn’t as major of an event as Rook Arrival Day.

Although there were potential pitfalls that could have occurred, the regimental action went off smoothly and there were many benefits from accomplishing it.

“There’s not much that you can do when you’re stuck on campus,” but the corps-wide event seems to have struck a chord.

According to cadre members who were part of this run, the actual pace of the run turned out to be a 21-minute mile pace.

“From what I heard, it was an extremely fun morale boosting event. You could hear everyone running and calling cadences while running around the campus,” said Drew.

De Nagy states that, “It looked like people were enjoying it (the run) and managing the pace pretty well.”


  1. Steven P Robinson says:

    When I was a Rook (Class of 1979), all the freshmen and their cadre ran from the Vermont College campus in Montpelier back to the Northfield campus. As I recall, it was Homecoming and timed to come in as part of the opening for the football game.

    I also remember getting razzed by my cadre because Col Wadsworth authorized my uncle Bob to take me off campus for dinner. Bob graduated in 1960.

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