DANCON MARCH || Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo

During my deployment, I had the opportunity to participate in two DANCON Marches. Each one was different. While the general details of a DANCON March are the same in this post as in my previous post. The images and my experience of the event are different. I hope you enjoy the post.

DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
Participants check their gear and wait for the start of the event.

What is a DANCON March? 
DANCON is short for Danish Contingent. The DANCON March is a tradition that goes back to 1972 when the Royal Danish Army was deployed in Cyprus. There is a DANCON event wherever the Danish Contingent mission takes them. The march has taken place in Afghanistan, Bosnia,  Croatia, Kosovo, and Iraq, to name a few. 
The march measures the Army's physical preparedness and provides a social event. The march route is located in the countryside close to the Danish Camp.  The march serves as a sign of mutual trust between the local residents and the Danish Contingent. Proceeds from each march are donated to wounded Danish Soldiers and veteran programs.
DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
Everyone is lined up to start.

DANCON March requirements:
  • 25km route by foot in varying terrain.
  • 10kg dry weighted pack. In addition to the 10kg is food, water, socks, etc. 
  • Weapons can be part of the load.
  • March must be done in military uniform and boots.
  • 8 hours to complete
Can I wear the medal on my uniform?

The short answer for U.S. Military personnel is no. The DANCON medal is only "honorary" and can only be accepted and retained. I cannot speak as to the wear of the medal for other Armies. It's a reminder that you had Type II fun and did something cool for bragging rights. Not being able to wear the medal shouldn't stop you from doing the march. It's more to it than that. Remember, this is a social event with multi-national troops. It is also a fundraiser for the Danish veteran programs. 

DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
Hundreds of Troops are greeted with a sunrise.

Does the medal change for each march? 

Yes, every Danish Contingent designs its own depending on regimental traditions. 
DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
The first of fields and wood lines that we would follow.


DANCON March Camp Novo Selo

I had completed a DANCON March earlier in my deployment, so I knew what I was getting myself into because of the July heat. The show time was much earlier. There was a 2-hour window to get everyone checked in.  We weighed our packs to meet the official weight and then checked in. The Danish Army has its process down to a science. During the check-in, it is interesting to see the different uniforms and equipment each army has. We might look different and are equipped differently, but all Soldiers are the same deep down.

There were approximately 900 participants in the march hosted by the Danish Contingent. Participants were from the following partner nations. Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States. I am sure I missed a few others.

The last time I did the DANCON I loaded my pockets with candy to hand out to the children in the villages. Because we would start our march this time before the sun had risen, and we would be done before the villagers had woken up to start their day. I didn't bring any candy with me. If your event is during normal daylight hours I highly suggest bringing candy to hand out to the children. 

Pro-tip: Save some of the candy for your return to Camp Novo Selo. There will be children in the village just outside of camp. You will miss them at the start of the March. If you don't have candy then they will want uniform patches. They can be a little irksome about it. 

DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
Sometimes you have to forge your own path.

While I knew this event was going to be tuff. I was excited to march into the countryside and walk through small farming villages. As we left camp the march headed east and we were greeted with an amazing sunrise. It became apparent that this march was going to take a different route than before. A little over half of the land in Kosovo is agricultural. Our route takes us along the sides of fields planted with and down rutted tractor paths. 

As I make my way over the route. Passing people is made difficult due to the volume of participants, the crops, and tractor paths. Once back on the asphalt, you need to make your move.

DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
The air quality in Kosovo can be bad. You can see the brown smog in this picture.

I don't know how to explain it. The sun in Kosovo just seems to beat down on you. On this day it didn't take long to get hot. There is not much of a way to get relief from the sun. As you can see from the above image, trees are few and far between. It amazes me every time I see the number of troops that participate in this event. They seem to go forever. Along the route will be aid stations that provide food and water. 
DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
Over half of the land in Kosovo is used for agriculture. Most land is used for subsistence farming.

I cannot stress enough how different this DANCON was from the first one that I did. We started off as soon as the sun was rising. We didn't go through the villages like I did before but through the fields that feed the people living in Kosovo. The route was about 2km shorter than the last march. 

But the Royal Danish Army had a little trick up their sleeve! Once we entered back into the gate of the camp we were only a few 100 steps from where we started a few hours earlier. One of the Danish Soldiers cheered us on and told us we had to take the running track around the camp. In a split second, I went from thinking I was done. But, I had further to go. The Danish had played a mind trick on us! It was very disheartening.

DANCON March Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo
The corn as a little longer to grow.

The finish point check-in didn't go as smoothly as the weigh-in did earlier that morning. It took me almost an hour to check in to get my certificate and ribbon. 

A couple of things to remember if you are thinking about doing a DANCON March. Each Danish contingent gets to design its own ribbon depending on regimental traditions. The routes can be different and the distance might be a little shorter due to the heat. Because of different factors and manpower. You might have a mass start or a staggered start time. Tickets for the event go fast, so don't wait around to purchase your ticket.

Now it is Your Turn-

Please leave a comment. I would like to hear about your DANCON March.

Navigate over to our other related articles on the DANCON March

To see more photos from the DANCON March, navigate over to Navigate to Your Adventure on Flickr


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