MPK RMC Combat Fitness Test 2019

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There are many ways to spend an awesome weekend. One is definitely to take part in the Royal Marine Commando Fitness test. The National Defence Training Association of Finland has organized a fitness test adopted from Royal Marine Commando for quite some time in Coastal Jaeger company in Dragsvik and this year’s timing matched my schedule. I was really curious to see how this would play out.

The test conducted is an adaptation of “ROYAL MARINES ADVANCED PERSONNEL FITNESS ASSESSMENT” and “ROYAL MARINES ADVANCED COMBAT FITNESS TESTS (RM ACFT (2) )”. In a nutshell, tests were run as follows:

Day 1: Bit of a warm-up and the first march

Basic physical tests

We started the testing cycle with basic:

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Aerobic test via shuttle run between 20-meter lines with a progressively faster pace

The test protocol was pretty strict and all tests were performed according to predetermined pace indicated by “beep” sounds coming from the speakers. This was a different approach compared to Finnish Military tests, where you have a predetermined time to complete as many reps as possible. In order to pass the tests, one needs to score points from each evolution and gain at least 200 points in total.

My performance was quite ok. I did well with push-ups and made all 60 reps required for full points. It was actually easy to do push-ups at a predetermined pace. With sit-ups and pull-ups, it was a bit more difficult and I have a feeling that I underperformed. The aerobic test was pretty nasty. Running between lines feels quite easy at first, but pace increases really fast and at least I had to put my a game on to meet the time limits. Still, I managed to score 214 points in total, which means “satisfactory” on scoring. So next year I have some score to settle with the test.

20 km march

After the test and quick breakfast, we headed away to conduct the first march in the test cycle. A 20-kilometre march with 31.3 kg load under 3 h 30 min but not faster than 3 h 25 min. The equipment was a weapon, battle dress uniform, combat webbing and rucksack. The webbing and weapon should weigh at least 13.22 kg and the rest of the load is in a rucksack.

A few dozen soldiers on a row in front of a red brick building.

Picture: MPK / Mikael Eklöf

The march was nice and fun. It was raining all the time but the heavy load and fairly fast pace (5.7-5.8 km/h) kept us warm. Spirits were high among the whole crew and everybody was making sure that each of us would meet the standards. During this evolution, our Särmä TST RP80 rucksack proved to be a solid companion. With such a heavy load, the external frame and well-adjusted carry system provided stability and comfort.

Soldiers marching after a pickup truck.

Picture: MPK / Mikael Eklöf

I did not have any problems during the march or after it. I guess it is a matter of practice and I regularly do marches ranging from 20 - 100 km so this was pretty easy evolution, even though the timeframe was fairly tight and the load was heavy.

Day 2: Speed march and carrying stuff

The second day we started early. At 06:00 we were ready to start the second march in the test cycle. The same 20-kilometre march, this time with a 25 kg load to be completed under 3 h but not faster than 2 h 55 min. The speed increased quite a lot more than the weight dropped. Now the average speed had to be 6.7-6.9 km/h. In practice, we ran the best part of the route.

Three soldiers geared up ready for the march.

Picture: MPK / Mikael Eklöf

Some folks who had done the test before told horror stories about the second march and I had mentally prepared for the worst but frankly speaking, I think the march was actually easier than the first one. We were rolling at a fast pace and I felt covering kilometres faster was easier from a mindset point of view. The faster you are done, the faster you get to rest - kind of thinking. Spirits were high during the whole march and it was a good presentation of camaraderie when the whole crew cheered the last warriors to pass the finish line on time.

Smiling soldiers in dim light a row in front of the red brick building.

Picture: MPK / Mikael Eklöf

With the march as a warm-up, we immediately transitioned to the last phase of the test with ROYAL MARINES REPRESENTATIVE MILITARY TESTS (RM RMT). This part contained the following:

  • Fireman’s carry 100 m under 45 s
  • Carry 2 x 20 kg Jerry cans 150 m
  • Shuttle sprints with go in prone and up 5 x 20 m under 56 s

The test protocol includes rope climbs as well but due to the facilities, we did not have a chance to perform those. Evolutions were either pass/fail scoring.

The fireman’s carry was tough one right after march but you just fight it through. Carrying a load of 40 kg was not too bad, except my fingers were totally frozen at this point in time, so I needed to look at my hands to make sure I firmly grip the cans.

A video of the fireman's carry brings back warm memories.

Shuttle sprints were fun and I was actually doing some extra laps because I lost count. Apparently, I was a bit tired after the march.

I love the way Shuttle Sprints suck.

What a weekend! It was tough but fun and after the tests, I felt relieved. The only thing to stress about was the final scoring. In the debriefing, we went through the scoreboard and I passed the test, even though there is a lot to improve for next year.

More information about the test and standards can be found here.

Few observations of the gear

As always, this type of event is a great opportunity to test and evaluate gear. This time I went in with my basic kit, which I mostly use in field exercises. But here are a few remarks:

The Särmä TST RP80 is a solid workhorse. It is not lightest or most streamlined rucksack, but if your mission requires you to carry heavy loads for extended periods of time, the Särmä TST RP80 will help you do it. The external frame provides a stable platform to carry heavy loads and makes life easier for the warrior.

The Särmä TST L4 Field Jacket and Field Trousers work well with the rucksack when using the hip belt. The jacket does not have waist pockets, which is good when using the hip belt of the rucksack. Another good aspect of the L4 Field Jacket is ventilation in the armpits. Even though the weather was fairly cold, the heat load was heavy. With extra ventilation, it was easy to keep the temperature at the right level during the march.

Because on the first day it was raining like hell, we all got wet. The L4 Field Jacket and trousers are made from a lighter fabric, so they dried really fast and were ready to rock the next day. This is a feature that one should keep in mind when selecting combat clothing.

Merino wool is king. I used the Särmä TST L1 boxers, t-shirt, and Särmä merino wool socks during the event. Even though I was totally wet after the first march, I still felt comfortable. A double layer of Särmä merino wool socks has proven to be a good solution for me. Zero blisters during this trip and my feet felt happy all the way.

Go and try it out!

The test was challenging and you need to be in shape in order to succeed but requirements are not insane and they are achievable with proper training. Also, variance in different stages of the test simulates many possible physical activities in battle. I think this type of testing is a really feasible way to assess combat fitness. At least I pinpointed some improvement areas. On the other hand, passing the test gave me confidence, that I am able to perform my duties if required.

What was most important, we had good times with the whole crew and everybody was supportive and pushed to the limits. Also, the event was well organized by MPK cadre and Nyland Brigade provided excellent support for the event. So if you are in the reserves and want to check your combat fitness level, I strongly recommend this course.

Check for The National Defence Training Association of Finland course calendar for upcoming events.

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