The ten-miler: army takes physical education to a new level

Keeping the Peace
By Tom Lessard, C.D.

At 27 C.O.D. (the Central Ordnance Depot on Highbury Avenue in London), the only physical training I ever did was playing hockey in the London industrial league. Every Friday afternoon we had a practice at the fairgrounds arena. Our coach was an Indian sergeant who enjoyed his wine. We each took turns every week to go to the Brights wine store at Dundas and Adelaide to pick up at least a half dozen bottles of Katawba at about 50 cents a bottle. At every shift change, before we hit the ice he handed us the bottle to take a drink. When the two-hour practice was over, we were in pretty good shape.
I wanted to go to Germany. The only way I could get there was to take a posting with 1 R.C.R. (at Ipperwash), which was rotating in 1962; I grabbed the chance.
Being corps personnel, we were exempt from a lot of the training that the infantry did, with the exceptions being range firing and a bit of drill, until someone in Ottawa came up with the idea of a ten-miler. I’d never heard of such a thing but was soon to find out what it was.
I was told to get my packs, draw my rifle and report to the rec center. We were formed up, had our names checked off and our packs inspected. Everything I had in my pack was brand new since, being on the quartermaster staff, I had two of everything.
At timed intervals we were sent off in small groups. Off we went out the front gate and down the side road to the beach. Running in the sand with the extra weight was pretty demanding. After a few miles we finally left the beach and headed up the winding hilly road to Port Franks and Highway 21.
I was beat and hollered ahead that I wasn’t going any further. That was a stupid thing to say because the next thing I knew the guy behind me shoved his rifle muzzle into my back and hollered, “Nobody in my group quits!”
I eventually made it back to camp but I didn’t have the strength to carry anyone for the100 yards portion of the ten-miler, so Jack Crowe said he’d carry me. He gave me his rifle, which happened to be the one he used to prod me back at Port Franks camp. Off we went. I don’t know which was worse, carrying or being carried. Next we had to climb a wall and then jump a ditch. We completed everything with time to spare.
That was an example of life with 1 R.C.R. I had a great 11 years with a wonderful group of people.