CAMP NOVO SELO, Kosovo –
Nebraska Army National Guard Capt. Travis Kirchner, 111th Public Affairs Detachment commander, achieved a first-place finish in the traditional Danish Contingency (DANCON) March of 24.27 kilometers near Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo, Jan. 7, 2023. Kirchner, from Kearney, Nebraska, won the event with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 35 seconds, becoming the first American in recent memory to win.
“The DANCON proved to be just as hard as I could have imagined and even more competitive than I was expecting,” Kirchner said. “Apart from the grueling 15 miles of frequent elevation change, it was an honor to participate in this tradition stemming back from the Danish Defense in the 1970s.”
Five hundred and forty-five Soldiers from 21 nations across Kosovo Force Regional Command-East (KFOR RC-E) participated. Since 1972, the DANCON March has been conducted wherever Danish soldiers are deployed.
Danish Army Sgt. 1st Class Bo Gjelstrup, who organized the march, said he only had records of four previous DANCON marches in Kosovo, but in that time period, no U.S. service member had ever won.
The march required participants to have a 10 kg (22 lbs.) rucksack, military uniform and their weapon. The competitors had to hike up a two km sharp incline hill to reach the halfway point before turning around and continuing back to Camp Nova Selo.
“Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy running,” said Kirchner, who is also a member of the National Guard's All Guard Endurance Team. “I enjoy the challenges that running presents and try to stay competitive when it comes to endurance events. However, the DANCON offered a much different challenge than I was prepared for. Running in boots and utes with a 10 kg pack for over 24 km was intimidating, but I was ready for the challenge and confident in my legs from putting hundreds of miles on them since I was in Kosovo.”
The 111th Public Affairs Detachment is currently deployed to Kosovo, in support of Operation Joint Guardian.