Diverse group rucks for veterans at York College

Bill Kalina
York Dispatch
Lori McKinney of New Oxford is offered a hand by a friend while preparing for the Veteran's Day Ruck at York College's Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. York College student-veterans and active-duty members coordinated the 5 to 10K ruck to raise funds for the local nonprofit For the Love of a Veteran. Bill Kalina photo

Lori McKinney was eager to share some of her bottled water during the Veterans Day Ruck at York College.

The military mother of three used it to add weight to the backpack she wore — 43 pounds, equaling the amount of progress she’d made during her weight-loss regimen.

That regimen hasn’t included rucking — walking or running a distance with a heavy pack.

“I had to borrow my boyfriend’s backpack,” the New Oxford woman said.

York College student-veterans and active-duty members enrolled in the course, Boot Camp YCP Style, and coordinated the distance-flexible 5K to 10K ruck to raise funds for the local nonprofit “For the Love of a Veteran.”

The class is an acclimation or sorts for vets, providing camaraderie and guidance in honing their military skills in civilian life, according to instructor Robyn Maitoza, associate professor of Human Services. She said organizers hoped to make the hike an annual event.

Meg Benedict, of Hallam, adjusted her pack while preparing for the hike. She and her husband, Hugh, both in their mid-60s, had just hiked over 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago Trail in Spain last month.

Meg Benedict of Hallam prepares for the Veteran's Day Ruck at York College's Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. York College student veterans and active-duty members enrolled the course, Boot Camp YCP Style, coordinated the 5 to 10K ruck to raise funds for a local veteran's nonprofit.

“This should be nothing,” she said. “This is flat; that was mountainous.”

About 20 people made the benefit ruck, starting at York College's Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center, traversing a portion of the York County Heritage Rail Trail and back.

Lori McKinney of New Oxford, center, walks with her friend, Michele Jarvis of Dover Township, and Jarvis' daughter Emma, 14, during the Veteran's Day Ruck at York College's Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

After the ruck, McKinney said she “pushed through,” finishing the entire 10K course. She and her friends lightened her load by only three bottles. She said she might ruck in the future, but with some adjustments.

“I definitely am not going to be adding 43 pounds,” she said, “That really slowed me down.”