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Spc. Jacob Truex is congratulated by friends and fellow GIs after he set a new record Tuesday in the five-kilometer backpack run at Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany. Truex’s five-kilometer was 22 minutes, 20 seconds; he missed the mile record by about 10 seconds.
Spc. Jacob Truex is congratulated by friends and fellow GIs after he set a new record Tuesday in the five-kilometer backpack run at Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany. Truex’s five-kilometer was 22 minutes, 20 seconds; he missed the mile record by about 10 seconds. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Spc. Jacob Truex is congratulated by friends and fellow GIs after he set a new record Tuesday in the five-kilometer backpack run at Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany. Truex’s five-kilometer was 22 minutes, 20 seconds; he missed the mile record by about 10 seconds.
Spc. Jacob Truex is congratulated by friends and fellow GIs after he set a new record Tuesday in the five-kilometer backpack run at Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany. Truex’s five-kilometer was 22 minutes, 20 seconds; he missed the mile record by about 10 seconds. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Spc. Jacob Truex, carrying a 40-pound backpack, is cheered by fellow soldiers Tuesday as he attempts to set the Guinness World Record in the one-mile and five-kilometer backpack runs at Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany.
Spc. Jacob Truex, carrying a 40-pound backpack, is cheered by fellow soldiers Tuesday as he attempts to set the Guinness World Record in the one-mile and five-kilometer backpack runs at Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

HANAU, Germany — Scores of soldiers crowded around Spc. Jacob Truex, forming a sort of horseshoe around the winded warrior.

As the 20-year-old struggled to catch his breath, Sgt. James McCabe made a bold pronouncement, sounding for all the world like a stage promoter.

“Ladies and gentlemen, soldiers and friends,” McCabe began, “I give to you the fastest man in the world with a 40-pound backpack.”

And that just about says it all.

Truex laid claim Tuesday to setting a world record for running the fastest five kilometers (about three miles), while saddled with a 40-pound pack. He ran the distance in 22 minutes, 20 seconds — give or take a few seconds — besting the old record by nearly three minutes.

The Oregon native had hoped to also eclipse the speed record for one mile, but fell short by about 10 seconds.

“I’m a little disappointed about the one mile [record],” Truex said after his record-setting run at Fliegerhorst Casern near Hanau, “but I pushed myself as hard as I could to get the other one.”

For the record, his backpack contained 20 pounds of rice, a 7-pound sleeping bag and an assortment of barbell plates that added up to the final 13 pounds.

While the five-kilometer feat was witnessed by roughly 100 people, there is an established protocol that Truex must follow to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. There are forms to fill out and witness statements to collect.

In addition, McCabe, who is Truex’s supervisor at the 127th Aviation Support Battalion, videotaped the entire run, as well as the preceding weigh-in. That footage is important because it documents for the reviewers in England an uninterrupted sequence of events, from the formal weigh-in and the run itself to the sprint to the finish line.

“He trains like there is no tomorrow,” McCabe said the day before. “Me? I go back home to my wife [every night] and watch TV. Maybe all this stuff will rub off on me.”

Tuesday’s turnout was a testament to Truex. Contemporaries and senior leaders more than twice his age spoke well of the vehicle mechanic and Iraqi war veteran.

“Everyone is proud of him,” Spc. Daniel Purple said as he packed away the unit guidon that stood near the finish line. “He’s the coolest guy.”

“He runs like a horse,” Maj. Miguel Martinez said while Truex was on the course. “Not even in my younger years was I in that kind of shape.”

Truex is separating from the military this spring and plans to train full time for triathlons. He has his eye on at least another record or two, but it’s not about getting attention. The guy just likes a good challenge.

“I hope my record gets broken,” Truex said the day before, jinx be damned. “That’ll mean that somebody went out there with the drive to beat it.”

Apropos for Valentine’s Day, Truex dedicated his record run to his mother, Susie.

“He’s my sweetheart,” she said by phone, from Albany, Ore.

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