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Midvale Journal

Rucksacking group’s charity event combines fitness with purpose

Jan 05, 2024 10:39AM ● By Annabelle Larsen

Tiffany Christensen (in green hat) helps to move and coordinate the Ruckmas 2023 event. (Annabelle Larsen/City Journals)

For those who have fallen on hard times, the holiday season can be difficult. But one group is trying to help lighten that burden with some heavy lifting of their own. Each December, a group of rucksackers celebrate what they call Ruckmas. This year, the annual event took place on a cold Saturday morning at the Bingham Junction Park in Midvale. 

For those unfamiliar with rucksacking, it's walking while carrying a weighted backpack or a rucksack, which is a durable backpack meant for carrying weights or equipment. Ruckmas participants filled their rucksacks full of essential items for those in need and walked (or rucked) from Bingham Junction Park to The Road Home in Midvale to donate the items. 

Many of the owners of True North Event Company, the group that hosts Ruckmas each year, were in attendance including Tiffany and Cory Christensen. Tiffany Christensen, who wore a festive Christmas tree hat, said this event is “fitness with a purpose.” Ruckmas was initially designed to give the rucking community a way to participate in their hobby and interact with others, as well as to get into the spirit of giving. “It brings people together for a worthy cause,” Tiffany Christensen said.

Originally, this event went from store to store in the area and asked for donations, but in recent years they have been able to accumulate enough donations to deliver items directly to The Road Home. They teamed up with the popular sock brand Bombas over the last few years to supply socks to donation centers. Socks are frequently a needed item as they need to be new.  

Ruckmas has been helping give back to the community for over six years and have specifically worked with The Road Home the past four years. Each year, Ruckmas puts on a theme for the event and this year it was “The Nightmare Before Ruckmas” based on the popular seasonal Tim Burton film, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Each year, Faith Solum, one of the owners of True North Event Company, creates a unique Ruckmas design that is put onto hoodies, T-shirts and patches for participants.  

In attendance were members of Team Red White and Blue, a community that offers physical and social activities for military veterans and their family members through regular social gatherings, fitness activities and community service events. 

John Atamanczyk, wearing Team Red White and Blue apparel and a rucksack, stated that this is his first year of Ruckmas and he found out about it through Ruck 801, a local rucking group, and decided to join in on the fun. Along with Atamanczyk was another Team Red White and Blue member Frank Liebmann, who started his rucking career by throwing rocks and batteries into his rucksack to gain endurance. 

Talking with them was Leticia Haacke, who had gotten into rucksacking to combat a disease she says causes holes in the bones. Haacke has been thrilled with the results. “At the beginning of the year I was walking on crutches,” she said. Now she trekked to The Road Home with her own pack. 

Another owner of True North Event Company, Matt Solum, had the opportunity to hype up the crowd of rucksackers in preparation for the journey. “This is one of our favorite events,” Matt Solum said to those in attendance. “We are honored to give back to The Road House today.” 

After Matt Solum’s speech, the group loaded up their rucksacks with essential items and lots of socks and started rucking to The Road Home. λ