ALBANY — Rucking for a reason.
That’s what Danny Stokes has been up to for the better part of a year, with Capital Tour 2017. In an effort to raise money for Operation Enduring Warrior, a non-profit that supports veterans through adaptive athletics programs and outreach events, Stokes has organized a ruck to every state capital in the country. On Tuesday, his tour makes a stop in Albany.
A ruck, for those who’ve never heard of it, is a usually a 15- to 20-mile hike done while carrying a backpack. It’s inspired by special forces training and is usually done in support of veterans, both of which Stokes knows well.
Stokes, who lives in Washington, retired from the U.S. Army in 2015. His 23-year career included tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, 14 years in special forces and eight years as a signal officer.
But once he retired, he wanted to keep giving back in some way.
He started working for GORUCK, a backpack company that organizes rucks, and became a cadre, or a ruck leader. He also started volunteering with Operation Enduring Warrior.
His goal is to raise $20,000 for OEW.
“I’m just about halfway to my goal and I’m at the halfway mark on the tour,” Stokes said.
Brad Glass, a rucker and professor of education who recently moved to Delmar, will be joining the ruck in Albany.
“I started rucking over 10 years ago as a way to get in shape and to be connected with the military. ... I finished that first one and I signed up for more the next day,” Glass said. Rucking also gave him a sense of community. When he moved to the Capital Region with his wife, Laura, earlier this year, he already had a network of local ruckers to welcome him.
Although the Capital Tour 2017: Albany ruck will be a different experience from some of the other ruck events he’s done (it’s focused on raising awareness for OEW rather than fitness), Glass said it’s the most hands-on way to learn about and support veterans. The ruck leaders (or cadres) are usually veterans and they often share stories about life in the military and the transition in and out of civilian life. Rucking with the cadres has also given Glass leadership skills and problem-solving skills that Glass says translates to any profession.
The Albany ruck will start out at 5 p.m. at the Mohawk River Park in Colonie and follow the Mohawk-Hudson Bike/Hike Trail for the majority of the 20-mile journey. There will be a rallying point at the Riverfront Bar and Grill (12 Quay St.) in Albany between 10:30 and 11 p.m. for anyone who wants to join in the five miles. The ruck is slated to end between 12:30 and 1 a.m. at the Capitol building, where Stokes will give closing remarks.
“It’s a 20-mile hike and that usually takes around seven hours,” Stokes said. It all depends on the pace that the team wants to set and what everyone wants to do along the way. Sometimes groups want to take a break to stop by a local bar or just need more rest time. Participants should also be aware that carrying a specifically weighted backpack is not necessarily on this ruck, said Stokes.
Around 20 people are expected to join the Albany ruck, but more are welcome to sign up right up to the start of the event. Registration is $30, half of which goes directly to OEW. Stokes will have patches for those who complete the ruck, along with other merchandise. For more information about the tour, visit capitaltour2017.com.
For information about Operation Enduring Warrior, visit enduringwarrior.org.