US Marines Returning

Kāpiti runners to follow training trail Leon Uris called ‘the meanest’

The Kāpiti  Jogger and Walkers Club is running a unique event to recall as gut-wrenching US training ‘hike’ described by Leon Uris as ‘mean’ and ‘wicked.’

The event on Sunday, June 10, is part of the ‘Salute70’ celebrations, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of US

Marines in New Zealand during World War Two.

(The photo by Pam Childs shows a view of the area covered by two Marine camps below Campbell’s Mill Road near Mackay’s Crossing north of Paekakariki.)

In 1942, the Marines were welcomed with open arms by Kiwis, who faced possible invasion by fanatical Japanese troops at a time when most of the New Zealand service people were away on active duty with the British.

Route march vividly described in novel

The Club says the event will provide a unique opportunity for locals to run or walk the challenging route march described by Leon Uris in his book ‘Battle Cry.’

The 13km course includes sealed and unsealed roads and bush and clay tracks, and offers spectacular views.

The route climbs over 300m, so a good standard of fitness isrequired; and the race is restricted to people 16 years and over.

It’s expected that New Zealand service people, US Embassy staff and mountain runners and walkers from around the region will take part. However all walkers and

runners are welcome to enter.

The venue is Whareroa Farm, at MacKays Crossing, north ofPaekakariki. Walkers start at 9 am and runners at 10 am.

The entry fee is $20 with $5 extra to enter on the day.

Postal entry or enter online at: <www.enteronline.co.nz>

For more information and postal entry forms see: <www.marinenz.com>

Donations from the proceeds will be made to the Whareroa Guardians Community Trust, the Kapiti Aquatic Centre and

the Wellington Free Ambulance.

Leon Uris’s view

But 70 years ago Marine Leon Uris’s had a jaded view of the whole saga.

Here his description of the route march, from ‘Battle Cry.’

‘Fall in, goddammit, on the double!’

We were off on our first hike in New Zealand. A half mile to the

camp gate, then two miles down the highway and a right turn up the

slowly winding dirt road. It twisted in a slow rise for nearly four

miles. We called it the Little Burma Road. From the top, fifteen

hundred feet up, we could see the rolling green hills, small dotted

farms, and in the distance the ocean.

Then we raced over the hills, through ravines and gulleys, over wire

fences, along sheer sheep trails, sliding and falling in sheer drop.

Through the woods until we wound back to Camp MacKay, and

Paekakariki, which we could see far below us. Then down a

treacherous cliff on our backs and guts until we descended into

camp.

I felt it was the meanest course I’d ever done. It was November in

New Zealand and the middle of summer and it was hot. The long

stretch up the Little Burma was plain wicked. The slow rise sapped

the juice out of our legs and the weight of the gear hung like a heavy

burden. Then came the sweat, the eternal sweat … and plenty of

bitching from the men….’

The course for ‘In the Footsteps of the Marines’ is about 13km and is a rough replication of Leon Uris’s route march.

It starts at the Whareroa Farm entrance at MacKays Crossing and continues along Emerald Glen Road, Waterfall Road, Maungakotukutuku Road and Campbell’s Mill Road.

From there it follows a short bush track onto the zigzag mountain bike track in Whareroa Farm. At the bottom, the course follows farm tracks and an unsealed road to finish by

the Whareroa Shelter.

It’s hoped this year’s runner and walkers won’t be as exhausted as the heavily-laden Marines of 70 years ago.