SARATOGA SPRINGS — This Memorial Day, the Abigail Jenks Memorial Ruck Race will be held at Gavin Park, offering the opportunity to honor local service member Abigail Jenks and raise money for scholarships in her honor.
The race will take place May 29 at 9 a.m, and is in honor of Specialist 4th class Abigail Jenks, the first woman from the Capital Region to enlist as a combat paratrooper, where she was assigned to the 82nd Airborne division. Jenks passed away during a routine helicopter training mission in 2021, and the race was designed to raise money for scholarships in her honor.
Jack Trimmings, organizer of the race, said this is the first year the race will be open to the public in an effort to raise awareness and honor Jenks’ legacy.
“Last year, we set up a scholarship fund in the name of Abigail Jenks for the high school,” said Trimmings. “We completed a ruck last year, on a walkathon basis. We took GoFundMe funds, and that went toward the scholarship, and to host the event this year.”
Along with Vincent Sablich, who is now his partner in organizing the event, Trimmings and several friends completed a 22-mile ruck in honor of Jenks last year. This year, the group is opening the event to the local community members for the first time.
Funds raised will go toward two scholarships to be given to graduating seniors from Saratoga Springs High School. Trimmings said the idea is for one scholarship to go to a student committed to military service, and for the other to go to a student who is exemplary in the arts.
“Abigail was actually a very talented artist and painter,” Trimmings said. “That’s also kind of her legacy. … It will be one for the military and one for the arts every year, hopefully.”
This year’s event will take place at Gavin Park, where participants will make four loops around the park for a total of six miles.
A ruck race is walking, jogging, or running with a weighted backpack, Trimmings said. The Army standard weight is 35 pounds, and participants are asked to bring their own backpack. The SNACpack program will be accepting donations after the race, with Trimmings suggesting participants weigh their backpacks with canned goods to donate.
“My family started a SNACpack foundation,” said Trimmings. “It’s a Saratoga school district-specific foodcare service for students who don’t have enough food on the weekends, on breaks, summers, and things like that. We’re accepting some canned goods, if that’s how participants would want to pack their backpack with weight.”
Tickets to the Ruck Race are $20 for racers, and $15 for students and non-racers. Racers must be ages 15 to 65, but Trimmings said all ages are welcome to participate without a weighted backpack through a non-racer ticket.
The race will begin at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day. Trimmings said it “means a lot” to be able to honor Jenks, noting that the goal of the race is simply to “spread the message” of her life and story.
“It means a lot, knowing that now we’re hopefully going to get a community into this,” Trimmings said. “At the end of the day, our goal is to spread the message. If we can open that up to the community, then that’s one of the best ways to do it.”
To sign up for the Abigail Jenks Memorial Ruck Race, visit https://zippy-reg.com/register/jenksruckrace.