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What to Expect At The Bataan Memorial Death March

Updated on June 19, 2014

Bataan Memorial Death March

The Bataan Memorial Death March is one of the most challenging marathons in the United States.

It is an opportunity to test your physical limits.

Most importantly it is a rare occasion to honor the American and Filipino WWII Veterans that were marched across the Philippine jungle in 1942.

Take this unique opportunity to shake the hands of the men that survived the death march to the capital of Bataan.

Now that you have researched the history of The Bataan Death March and have trained for the 26.2 mile march through New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range.

What can you expect when you arrive at the Memorial March? Where is the best place to stay?

I will be participating in my 4th Bataan Memorial March. Here are a few tips to help you have an amazing experience.

Poster of White Sands Missile Range from

The Bataan Memorial Death March White Sands New Mexico

Arriving at White Sands Missile Range - How To Get To The Bataan Memorial Death March

Campsite Bataan Memorial Death March
Campsite Bataan Memorial Death March

White Sands Missile Range is a very small military installation in the middle of the New Mexico dessert. It is approximately twenty minutes from Las Cruces, New Mexico. The nearest airport is one hour away in El Paso, Texas. No public transportation is available to The Bataan Memorial Death March.

Marchers should arrive at least one day prior to the march for check-in. In- processing will begin on March 15th at 9:00Am all participants must be signed in by March 16, 9:00PM.

Registration usually takes an hour. Participants are divided by entry category, signed in, and given welcome packets with a schedule of events.

The installation has a shoppette and commissary open to military personal. The bowling alley will be serving meals throughout the day at scheduled times.

Click for Schedule of Events

I suggest packing a cooler with food and snacks. The nearest restaurant is in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Volunteers do provide snacks such as bananas, apples, granola bars and juice at the start of the march, along the course and at the finish line.

White Sands Missile Range Is a Military Installation

Photo ID, valid vehicle registration and insurance must be current and readily available.

Camp Site White Sands Missile Range New Mexico
Camp Site White Sands Missile Range New Mexico

Where To Stay At The Bataan Memorial Death March

There are several billeting options for The Bataan Memorial Death March. I personally recommend camping out at the foot of the mountain. The view is amazing it is free and less than a mile from the starting line.

The camp site does have parking spaces for RVs but there is a fee and spaces are limited. The majority of participants camp out in tents. The camp ground has a bathroom and shower facility. It is also near the gymnasium. The gym is open to campers for showers and bathrooms.

The gymnasium will be open from Friday-Sunday. It is open for billeting but is first come first serve. The gymnasium offers more shelter from the elements. It can get very windy in the New Mexico Desert. I would only recommend sleeping at the gym if you are not bothered sleeping along side several hundred strangers.

The other option is to rent a hotel room in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is approximately 20 minutes from White Sands,NM. This may be a good option if you are traveling with small children. I will caution you that every vehicle is subject to vehicle searches upon entering the military installation. It can take hours to get on the installation the morning of the march.

You are not allowed to miss the starting time and you definitely do not want to miss the opening ceremonies. All participants must be present by 6:00 AM.

StayBride Suites

Hotel Encanto De Las Cruces

Holiday Inn Express

CandleWood Suites

Click To Register For The 25th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March

Welcome To Las Cruces

Photos By Gina Birdsong

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath - Bataan Death March Survivor Stories

Bataan Memorial Death March

Bataan Death Memorial March Course
Bataan Death Memorial March Course

The Bataan Memorial Course

Marching In The Bataan Memorial Death March

The actual course is very challenging. I have participated in many different competitions and events throughout my military career but I can easily say that Bataan was the toughest. The terrain is full of rocks and sand and includes a steep seven mile incline to the top of the mountain. This event should not be attempted without training.

The New Mexico climate is hot and dry and can be very dangerous.

Volunteers provide water, fruit and Gatorade along the march. The water stations are scattered throughout the march but it is highly recommended that you bring your own water. A Camel pack is allowed in military uniform and can be carried with a rucksack.

Porter Johns are also available at every water point.

Click To See Elevation Map Of Course

The department of immigration patrols the course on sport utility vehicles. They keep an eye out for injured participants. They can also disqualify anyone showing signs of dehydration or distress.

Click To Register For The 25th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March

The experience of Bataan is unlike any other. Teams of civilians and Service Members travel from all over the world to participate in this amazing event. Teams are required to complete the course together. It is the ultimate test of camaraderie and Esprit De Corp.

My Experience At The Bataan Memorial Death March - Remembering Bataan Phillipines

Bataan Memorial Death March
Bataan Memorial Death March

Read About My Experience At The Bataan Memorial Death March

The Best Pack For Bataan

There are many different styles of rucksacks and hiking packs on the market. I highly suggest using a military style rucksack for The Bataan Memorial Death March. This rucksack is the one I used my first time at Bataan. It is light weight, durable and relatively inexpensive.

Large ALICE Field Pack with Frame and Full Outfit LC-1 Green
Large ALICE Field Pack with Frame and Full Outfit LC-1 Green

This rucksack has room for all of the essentials you will need on the march as well as the other items you will need to make up the 35 pounds required for the heavy division. The shoulder straps are padded and cinches down so the pack fits snuggly against your body. This rucksack is the one used by the Army it is designed to carry heavy loads for long distances. I have a small 4’11’’ frame and was more than comfortable carrying this pack.


Essential Items For The Bataan Memorial Death March

Items To Carry During the Bataan Ruck March

The last thing you want to do is carry a bunch of unnecessary items on a long ruck march. These are a few items that I believe are worth carrying. The items can help make up the 35 pounds you are required to carry if you are entering the heavy division.

They are also small enough to be tucked into the small pocket of a camel back.

Do not forget to carry a form of identification, medical I.D. tags and any other essential information that could help medical personnel in the event of a medical emergency

Camelbak HydroBak 50 oz Hydration Pack CHECK PRICE

ChapStick Variety PackCHECK PRICE

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 45 Twin Pack 3.0 Fl Oz CHECK PRICE

Oakley Men's GasCan SunglassesCHECK PRICE

Pack of 4 Instant Hand Sanitizer CHECK PRICE

Emerald Harmony Original Trail Mix, 10-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6CHECK PRICE

Do You Plan On Participating in the Bataan Memorial Death March - Support Those That will March in Honor of WWII Veterans

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    • iwrite100 profile image

      Maribel Forayo 5 years ago from Philippines

      We call it Veteran's day in the Philippines. Each year, we honor less and less of these men who survived that March. Thanks for this lens.

    • robertzimmerman2 profile image

      Robert Zimmerman 5 years ago from SE Florida, USA

      I t might be awhile before I make it out there but I always remember the service of all veterans.