Offering clear blue skies, ample sunshine, and high rocky terrain, southwestern New Mexico has become a destination for hikers, climbers and sport enthusiasts of all kinds. It is also home to one of the most grueling marathons ever conceived by man. Held annually since 1989, The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging 26-mile trek through the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range. The Bataan Memorial Death March treads familiar ground on March 19, 2023, with a virtual edition running March 19 – 26, 2023.
The March was established to commemorate one of the darkest periods in world history, and to honor the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 American and Filipino Prisoners of War were forced to march 63 miles to an internment camp on the Bataan peninsula by the Imperial Japanese Army. During that campaign, approximately 21,600 of those prisoners would lose their lives, due to malnutrition, disease, heat exhaustion and severe physical abuse.
Seven decades after the event for which it was named, the Bataan Memorial Death March exists primarily to continue bringing awareness of the sacrifices made by those brave soldiers to current generations. Now in its 34th year, the event is a combined effort between the White Sands Missile Range and hundreds of volunteers, working together in pursuit of that one goal.
Since its inception, the Bataan Memorial Death March has grown from about 100 marchers to between 8 and 10 thousand on any given year. Bringing in participants from across the United States and several foreign countries, it has become one of the top marathons in the world and a ceremonial tribute like no other.
The day will come, perhaps sooner than we care to admit, when there will be no more survivors left to remind us of those sacrifices. You can be sure, however, that the Bataan Memorial Death March will continue to bring recognition to them, and to the thousands who lost their lives during that forced five-day march through the Philippine jungles in 1942.
For more information, visit the website.
Posted by Ruidoso.com