In 2007, first Lieutenant Frank B. Walkup IV was killed while serving the military during a tour of duty in Iraq. Frank was a 2005 graduate from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and a local boy whom we miss and admire to this day. As part of our way to honor his service and memory, we hold the Mountain Man Memorial March (or MMMM, or M4) event each Spring.
The M4, which we’ll use as a handy shorthand, is an athletic contest of sorts where inspired individuals can run a marathon dressed appropriately as a U.S. military soldier with uniform and ruck sack, and run either a 10 kilometer distance, the half-length 13.1 mile distance, or the full 26.2 mile distance with winners recognized and prizes awarded. The website elaborates for us further:
“The Mountain Man Memorial March consists of two main categories. The March and the Run: The Run portion of the event consists of three events. The full 26.2 mile marathon, a 13.1 half marathon and a 10 Km run. The run events are divided into categories based on gender and age. The March portion of the event has two distances the full 26.2 mile distance and the 13.1 mile 1/2 distance. The event can be completed as an individual or as part of a five person team. Competitors are further categorized into Military and Civilian categories. Competitors in the Military category (teams or individuals) must be affiliated with a military organization or military type organization. Military teams or individuals may register in the civilian categories but civilians without military affiliation may not register in military categories. The March categories are further divided into Heavy and Light categories.”
“The [M4] makes it’s way through Gatlinburg and into the Smokey Mountains. The route consists of paved road, gravel road, and other uneven terrain. The route is made of up of flat stretches, rolling hills, and steep climbs. Water points, snacks, medical aid and support staff will be positioned and available along the route.”
As you can probably gather, this is a pretty major athletic undertaking, even at some of the Light levels, but that is, after all, much of the point of the event. We experience a fraction of what it’s like to serve and protect our country and what Frank had to carry as he served his duty. It’s just about the manliest event we have going on the calendar and we extend this information to anyone who wants to challenge themselves to proverbially step in Frank boots and honor his memory.
In addition, this is an event that is done in association with the Gold Star Family organization. The event traditionally honors and benefits the Gold Star Family organization and participants can sign up former, deceased or active members of the military or members of their immediate family at the event.
The Mountain Man Memorial March website, where you can find the appropriate information as well as sign up, can be found CLICK HERE . We look forward to seeing the many men and women who participate and hope you’ll get the chance to do so as well!