My absolute favorite piece of cinematic work EVER has been H.B.O.’s “Band of Brothers”. Anyone who has watched the mini-series will know what Currahee is. For those of you who may not be familiar with this place, here is a write up on a recent visit and review of running “3 miles up, 3 miles down”.
Last year I wrote about what has been billed by its promoters as the “toughest 10K you will ever love”. Well, in keeping with that theme I decided to go back in time and run a six-miler that was used to train American Paratroopers during WWII while they trained at Camp Toccoa in Northeastern Georgia. I’m not sure if those paratroopers loved running up this one on a regular basis, but more than one member of Easy Company has stated that the training they received at Toccoa made them what they were – an exceptional fighting unit. Completing the Col. Robert F. Sink Memorial Trail was the challenge, but first a little history.
Currahee Mountain is the part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the Appalachian Mountain Range and at its base sat Camp Toccoa. The mountain was made famous internationally by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg in their 2001 television miniseries Band of Brothers. The name of the mountain became the motto for these paratroopers including the famous quote: “3 miles up, 3 miles down”. Of the various regiments that trained at Toccoa, none gained as much fame as the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, led by Col. Sink. The nickname of the 506th is “Currahee”. Paratroopers of the 506th refer to themselves as “Currahees”, derived from the Cherokee word gurahiyi, which means “stand alone, together”.
My goal was to complete this in under an hour. It was warm, but not too warm, and of course humid with the dreaded “deer flies” accompanying me. The first two miles involved some “heavy lifting” but nothing out of the ordinary for someone who runs trails and is used to quick elevation changes and slow rolling elevation increases. Once you begin the 3rd mile up the mountain you are faced with a serious challenge. Expect to cover an increase in elevation of close to 800 feet in less than a mile. As I made it to the top, the lungs were working overtime. On your way down, be sure to remember the two significant elevation increases that you had the luxury of running down the first half of the run. These two elevation increases created the final challenges in a rather historic run. If you are ever in Northeastern Georgia I recommend making a go of this one. Oh, and my time for this little jaunt? Just over 56 minutes. Not quite the 50 minutes flat demanded by Capt. Sobel, but not bad either…