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Death March? I just don't buy this one...

pgt

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As a kid when I read about the Orcs snagging Pip and Merry and runnng back to Isengard/Fangorn followed by Aragorn and Co I distinctly recall wrinkling my nose and thinking that was a bit far fetched and moved on and continued enjoying the story.

On a recent rescan just prior to the movie I was again hung up on the Olympic performance of the Orcs et al.

3/26 Leave Parth Galen in late afternoon

did NOT sleep that night

3/27 Reach Cliff in morning

Find broach on 3/27 mid-morning

Slept that night (~8 hours)

3/28 continued (24 leagues mentioned)

Slept that night (~8 hours)

3/29 Continued (8+15 leagues estimated)

3/29 night, reached edge of line of downs

Slept that night (~8 hours)

3/30 traveled (possibly 13 leagues), awaited Riders (10 leagues short of forest.

A total of ~96 hours minus 24 hours rest yields 72 hours travel time.

Using a ruler I measured the distance from Rauros (the 's') to to the bottom of the 'o' in Fangorn on my little map at the beginnign of my paperback. That measured about 18mm.

According to the map scale that equates to approximately 185 miles as the crow flies.

46 miles average a day for 4 days?
96 hours aggregate for 185 miles?
72 hours actual running/jogging/walking for 185 miles?

Now am I supposed to believe that Aragorn and Co averaged over 46 miles a day for 4 straight days?

The orcs actually widened their lead and beat this record substantially.

Legolas, sure. But a man, a dwarf and a bunch of Orcs, (yes, some of which were Uruk Hai). Sure the Orcs have that kick-a%#[email protected] booze and maybe Aragorn and Co can be high on Lembas but the entire trek is well into Olympic record proportions and beyond.

Sure I suspend belief and enjoy the magic etc. but this one struck me as poor math on the part of the author. IMHO 1) Between the crude map and 2) a need to meet an increasingly fast timeline for the entire storyline and 3) a need to land the hobbits in Fangorn, something had to give. What gave (IMHO) was a convenient moving of pieces on the board that defied physical endurance and math and wasn't explained so that everthing else fit and came together.

Just my opinion that this was a fluke in an otherwise awesome and complex storyline. It also seems to dramatically shrink ME to be small if not puny when by all other accounts I felt it be vast and continental in nature.

I know the map is crude but it couldn't be THAT far off. Leagues are somewhat mentioned in the text but: they are incomplete references, I don't know off hand how to convert to miles, they wouldn't add up to the scale on the map anyway I suspect.

Comments? Was this a convient plot fluke or am I missing something.
 

Beorn

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You must remember that normal me participate in the Olympics and normal men aren't trying to save lives in the Olympics...

The Uruk-hai were bred to be Super Orcs so that they could walk in sunlight, and stuff. Orcs were made from tortured elves, and elves generally went on a long time and didn't tire easily. Sarumen probably kept inbreeding the most tireless orcs.

Legolas was an elf, so that eliminates the need to explain. Gimli was a dwarf, and they are stout, and don't tire easily. Now, I'm not sure how true the following is, but I'm only speculating: Since Aragorn was of Numenore, he might've had a longer endurance...or maybe his long legs allowed him to walk fast.

Another thing, as I mentioned above, was that in the Olympics men don't compete for other's lives (well, not in today's Olympics....maybe in Greece, but I dunno). So, Aragorn had some Adreneline (sp?) running through him, and Legolas and Gimli had probably their race's equivalent.

One last thing: 46 mi / 24 hrs is about 2 mph....as with all the other speeds....that's not all that fast...
 

pgt

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Saving a life that produces an adrenaline response is very very short lived. We're talking minutes, not days. That one doesn't fly for me.

As to Legolas I already gave him a free pass, my comments were to the Orcs, man and dwarf.

As to your arguments for Gimli: very short legs. no good for long distance travel. He is ALWAYS the first to want/need rest of the 3 companions too.

As to 46 miles a day for 4 days (arguably more miles I was rounding downards to be easy). Ever done a forced march in the Marine Corp? Just try covering 40 miles in one day let alone 4 days with a very light pack, young, in shape, modern training and gear (read shoes). Then let's see you consider 2.5mph paltry over a span of 4 days! Paltry is ain't!

As to the Orcs being Elvish I don't buy it. We'll agree to disagree on this point as it's off topic. THere are some very well written essays on the web that don't buy it either and I found their logic the better. Just MO.

At any rate the Orcs regardless of their origins outpaced the Numenorean and the Dwarf handily but whether they outpaced the Elf is a moot point. Bottom line is that they do hold the record for ME endurance runs or iron man competition or whatever. How is that equipped with such physical attributes, they are so easily dispatched in combat on a 1:1 basis or for that matter 1:10 or 1:20 or whatever? That just doesn't compute in my book.

Actually the exercise of putting together my original post crystalized in my mind that this was indeed a fluke. I almost didn't bother to post it but if I missed a biggee in my logic figured someone would let me know and convince me otherwise. Can anyone convince me this was NOT a fluke in the logic of the author?
 

Obbit Trifill

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What a wonderfully

well-thought out and deeply researched question, pgt.

I agree, the distance covered in the amount of time is suspect, unless.

Was most of it downhill?

If so, that could add to distance covered per day, especially if the terrain was covered with hard packed snow or fields of smooth ice which, when gravity is taken into account, would make the journey even faster.
 

Beorn

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Originally posted by pgt
As to the Orcs being Elvish I don't buy it. We'll agree to disagree on this point as it's off topic. THere are some very well written essays on the web that don't buy it either and I found their logic the better. Just MO.
Orcs not Elvish? I will not agree to disaggree!

http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/o/orcs.html

Grond, Cian, Tel, Kem...Do any of you guys have the exact quote-The Sil....

How is that equipped with such physical attributes, they are so easily dispatched in combat on a 1:1 basis or for that matter 1:10 or 1:20 or whatever? That just doesn't compute in my book.
I'm not sure what you mean, but if you mean how did Saruman get so many Orcs w/ these attributes, it's the same as getting a Golden Retriever. All you need to do is keep breeding the one with the selected trait.


Oh, I don't think JRRT ever said anything 'bout snow, or ice, especially in the end of March...
 

Thorin

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Just adding to what Mike B said,

Keep in mind the three who you are speaking about. Eomer was blown away like you were that they could travel such a distance. So it was not a normal thing, nor a normally acceptable thing. So you can eliminate any miscalculation on Tolkien's part.

Mike said the rest...
 
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ReadWryt

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Gimli would have been taking a good many more steps then the others!

I think that, should the math in the post that started this thread be accurate, what we witness is a simple error on the part of Tolkien in dealing with his own geography. I was reminded, while reading Mike's post, of the types of convoluted rationalizations that the folks attempting to defend the Movie in the face of my constant quotes from both Tolkien and Jackson.

(No offence Mike, I know that it is not your intent. It was not so much the quality or accuracy of the post as the general feeling it left me with)
 

Ancalagon

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I like this question soo much that I am going to refrain from answering (cause it's just too hard) and partake of the 'Orcs Brew' instead, run around for a while and then fall over from exhaustion.

Phhhewww. thats just like poppas moonshine!
 

curious_nomad

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Actually it would be 46 mi. divided by 16 hours(sleep for 8 hours) which turns out to be less than 3 mph. That's a relatively slow walk and slow jog. Anyone with a treadmill can attest. Keeping that pace would be easy even for a dwarf. Anyways, they did have lembas and did have adrenaline rushing through them. It's entirely possible. Just think of Phiddipides(sp) the marathon guy. 26.2 miles straight without a break. Dude!
 

SarumansTreason

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You may not buy it, but the Riders of Rohan said there would be songs about their chase because it was so speedy! If there are songs, that means it certainly is a great feat indeed!
 

pgt

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Obbit,
It wasn't downhill per se - it was broken terrain and later rolling grasslands. They were on the east bank of the Ent heading northwards which I would purely calculate as a slight increase in altitude in that direction. The 1st day and a half was very rough afterwards it was more open rangeland with flowing hills if memory serves.

Mike B,
I meant by the 1:10 or 1:20 as being somewhat tongue in cheek, it seemed like warriors such as Aragorn and Co slew orcs in such ratios in physical combat. I have a background in Track and Field and these orcs smoked them in distance/endurance. Lousy in physical combat but awesome in athletic ability? That doesn't add up in my book.

Thorin,
That is a very good point about Eomer's surprise. Finally someone adds something new here worthwhile to ponder. Here I suggest the author is 'admitting' 'yeah they went far & fast'. I still stand by with - they went too far too fast. When 'magic' is introduced belief is suspended by the reader. No magical explanation and the laws of physics apply. In this case the author provided no magical explanation than a brief acknowledgement of the distance (perhaps w/ a wink!?) and defied conventional physics. Or at least pushed them to their limits. Thanks Thorin!

Readwryt,
The math is accurate insofar as my ruler is accurate. If I really wanted to push accuracy I would have to push the #s upwards as to the miles (closer to 200 miles?). I deliberately erred downwards to try and make the distance/time more believable. Still didn't quite work out. The dates are straight from the text. There may be better examples of maps than my aging paperback.

Also I didn't bother with the orc traveling calculations. Those were actually faster and farther. They went all the way to the forest edges and moved quicker w/ less rest and a few got to carry extra 100 lb (Hobbit) packs that were swapped off.

Ancalagon,
I bet that stuff would be good for a long day of cross country skiing and snow camping!

Curious Nomad,
Please, please please! treadmills are NOT the same as actual movement of the body relative to the ground! If you did all your training for a 10K on a treadmill exclusively you'd be in for a rude awakening when you actually ran the 10K for real the first time.

...and the marathon dude promptly expired - dude!

Since I had hoped for more new or unique material to be introduced to this discussion I'll throw in a little food for thought of my own:
Has anybody here actually done a forced march in the military for just a day? A modern OCS or ROTC course would teach statistically something along the lines of 50 miles MAXIMUM in a single day (only few experience anything close to that even in basic training in the US military). That would include a solid 10%+ attrition rate (4 days, 40% attrition!). The military will tell you the biggest problem here folks is feet. 50 miles w/ 10% attrition presumes modern, very well fit, footwear and conditioned soldiers. Over a period of 4 days this becomes much more speculative.

If you are the type of person that will go to great lengths to come up with elaborate explanations for any aspect of the story, this thread will likely not change you mind, no more than mine. IMHO this incredibly complex and rich story was created by a human and, few though they may be, has flaws. This is but a minor flaw. Really I'd prefer to call it a "stretch" than a flaw.

---

Off topic note to Mike: Check out tolkien.cro.net/orcs/origin.html. I found this to be a very balanced and objectively written essay on the topic of Orc origins. I cannot improve upon it and suggest it for further reading. There is no conclusive answer IMHO and I choose to believe they are NOT Elvish. THen again, maybe you're right, thus making Orcs immortal and get to go to the halls of Mandos ;-)
 
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ReadWryt

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I have a background in Track and Field and these orcs smoked them in distance/endurance. Lousy in physical combat but awesome in athletic ability? That doesn't add up in my book.
That is because "your book" quite obviously fails to recognise the difference between Stamina and Skill, between Endourance and Tactical Ability...
 
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stratosphere

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1) average foot speed of a human over normal/ruff ground is 2 miles an hour at a steady walk..this can be kept for many hours..normal max to this is 20 hours then 8 hours rest . this can go on for some days before muscle waste begins due to acid build-up.

2) a fit man/women (though men appear to be better at this no offence meant ) can keep a fast jog up for 12 hours before burn kicks in. this would be about 4 miles an hour..

3) then there is what is called scouts pace. this is you run/fast jog for 50-100 paces and then walk 50-100 paces this can go on for day after day for very long periods depending on the fitness of those doing it. not sure of the speed of this but you really do cover ground at an amazing rate (from my own experience of needing to shift off mountains and back to civilisation a.s.a.p , and this was on what would be classed as broken to very ruff ground)

so if you are saying 185 miles then :-

1) would take a min of 92/93 hours with no rest

2)would take 46/47 hours no rest

3)as I said I do not know the speed of this but would expect it to be about the same as 2) but needing less rest.

note on 3) this was used allot in the napleonic wars by British scout( thus its name) and was shown to be the fastest why of moving small groups of lightly burdened men across ruff and open terrain , these men could eat drink on the move and still be in a state to fight at the end of there march.
most time on one forced march was 2.5 days solid scouts pace, no sleep.( do not know how accurate this is as things in history can get a bit embellished)

on forced marching there is many examples of these through history of troops marching there asses off over great distances that at first look would seem super human..
 

Bill the Pony

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In the Netherlands there is an event called de vierdaagse (something like the four day march) where people FOR FUN walk 50 km a day for four days in a row. Admittedly, that's less than 75 or so km (46 miles). But remember those people in the Netherlands only get a medal at the end, and that's enough for them. For Aragorn et al, there are the lives of their friends at stake to keep them going. It's still an impressive walk, but it doesn't sound completely impossible to me.
 

pgt

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ReadWryt,

So am I to infer that obviosly ReadWryt's BOOK says that someone CAN have superior physical ability to move long distances with iron shoes quickly but be so inept in physical combat that even 10:1 or 20:1 odds seem to get whipped.

ReadWryt blabbered: "'your book' quite obviously fails to recognise the difference between ...". Now let me get this straight, you state that I obviously don't know the definition of a couple of basic words? That is certainly one of the more obvious ways to troll for a flame war. And you call yourself a MODERATOR? May I suggest you look up the words "moderate" and "moderator". A good moderator can troll and create strife on a forum in more subtle ways as to not be directly attributed to him or her. I'd say you need some practice 'cause I just painted your skin like the broad side of a barn.

In order to correct what ReadWryt inaccurately attributed to me, Here's what "My book" REALLY says:
Running is mostly physical ability, endurance stamina, training or whatever.
Physical combat via heavy broadsword play or axe is a healthy mix of skill and physical ability. It may or may not be accurate but THAT's what my book says NOT what my good buddy ReadWryt mis-spoke.

I expected lively debate and additional data and am open to reason and logical arguments (see below where I amend my views at least somewhat). Regretfully, I'm more than a little disappointed that someone calling themselves "moderator" would troll like this.

In fact considering the literary demands the book places on the reader, I expect most enthusiastic readers to be of exemplary intelligence. I see no need in a forum like this to state that someone "obviously" doesn't understand fundamental differences in the semantics of common words when quite contrarily we all do.

===

Stratosphere,
That is a most excellent post and the kind of info I was looking for to add to this thread. I've amended my original complete disbelief at what I originally considered a 'flaw' to now consider it more of just a notable 'stretch of my imagination'. As to the specifics of your #s the only thing to keep in mind might be the statistical attrition rate in such distances. But really that probably doesn't need to be applied here in our ME model. As I said before, I'm a 'little' more satisfied with the physical situation that originally challenged my belief at the beginning of the thread though I don't completely embrace it or believe it.

Also keep in mind that I rounded the 185 mile figure downards. Also that is a straight as crows fly calculation. They wandered quite a bit the first day and a half getting out of the mountains and hills. There was no direct route over the ridge. Secondly there was a course change somewhere around the ent if memory serves. They went NW then N or something like that. That only makes that 185 mile distance an assuredly low figure.

People run marathons in the US and only get a TShirt or ribbon and some Gatorade. Registration fees are often more than the actual cost of the shirt, ribbon etc.

As to the mental state of rescuing friends (they had largely given up hope by the second day if you read the text - even the optimistic Legolas states such) as a 'superior motivational factor' that I keep seeing repeated, while it is certainly a factor I disagree that it is superior to other factors that can be experienced today by any of us. I would say that the mental condition of a USMC recruit fresh out of basic as comparable and in a mental state so as to believe nothing is impossible.

My thanks to all esp. Thorin and Stratosphere.
 

Pops

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Originally posted by pgt

ReadWryt blabbered: "'your book' quite obviously fails to recognise the difference between ...". Now let me get this straight, you state that I obviously don't know the definition of a couple of basic words? That is certainly one of the more obvious ways to troll for a flame war. And you call yourself a MODERATOR? May I suggest you look up the words "moderate" and "moderator". A good moderator can troll and create strife on a forum in more subtle ways as to not be directly attributed to him or her. I'd say you need some practice 'cause I just painted your skin like the broad side of a barn.

In order to correct what ReadWryt inaccurately attributed to me, Here's what "My book" REALLY says:
Running is mostly physical ability, endurance stamina, training or whatever.
Physical combat via heavy broadsword play or axe is a healthy mix of skill and physical ability. It may or may not be accurate but THAT's what my book says NOT what my good buddy ReadWryt mis-spoke.

I expected lively debate and additional data and am open to reason and logical arguments (see below where I amend my views at least somewhat). Regretfully, I'm more than a little disappointed that someone calling themselves "moderator" would troll like this.

In fact considering the literary demands the book places on the reader, I expect most enthusiastic readers to be of exemplary intelligence. I see no need in a forum like this to state that someone "obviously" doesn't understand fundamental differences in the semantics of common words when quite contrarily we all do.
JEEEEZUS, shut the hell up, already. You expected a 'lively debate and addition data' and 'logical arguments' about how fast a group of three beings can run in a friggin BOOK?!? Are you the guy at the movies that screams "he can't have that many bullets" or "that can't be done" in the action flicks?

It's a BOOK. In fact, it's a book created by the imagination of a single man. A reality he created all his own then decided to share with us. Perhaps in his world, humans, elves and dwarves can travel at a faster pace than we can in our reality. Perhaps not, but they ARE three great warriors with a sense of urgency. Obviously with more skill and endurance than a 'normal' being.

And what's this you say that Gimli not being good for long-distance travel? Dwarves are known for their endurance. And several times Gimli mentioned that he would not be outdone by an elf when it came to endurance.
 
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ReadWryt

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ReadWryt,

So am I to infer that obviosly ReadWryt's BOOK says that someone CAN have superior physical ability to move long distances with iron shoes quickly but be so inept in physical combat that even 10:1 or 20:1 odds seem to get whipped.

ReadWryt blabbered: "'your book' quite obviously fails to recognise the difference between ...". Now let me get this straight, you state that I obviously don't know the definition of a couple of basic words? That is certainly one of the more obvious ways to troll for a flame war. And you call yourself a MODERATOR? May I suggest you look up the words "moderate" and "moderator". A good moderator can troll and create strife on a forum in more subtle ways as to not be directly attributed to him or her. I'd say you need some practice 'cause I just painted your skin like the broad side of a barn.

In order to correct what ReadWryt inaccurately attributed to me, Here's what "My book" REALLY says:
Running is mostly physical ability, endurance stamina, training or whatever.
Physical combat via heavy broadsword play or axe is a healthy mix of skill and physical ability. It may or may not be accurate but THAT's what my book says NOT what my good buddy ReadWryt mis-spoke.

I expected lively debate and additional data and am open to reason and logical arguments (see below where I amend my views at least somewhat). Regretfully, I'm more than a little disappointed that someone calling themselves "moderator" would troll like this.

In fact considering the literary demands the book places on the reader, I expect most enthusiastic readers to be of exemplary intelligence. I see no need in a forum like this to state that someone "obviously" doesn't understand fundamental differences in the semantics of common words when quite contrarily we all do.
...could someone show me where I was "Trolling" there? I seem to have missed something. All I did was point out that someone presumed in their post that the same physical demands that dictate good marching were somehow indicative of their fighting skills. I may not have a background in track and field but I spent 4 years in Marching Band and I can tell you that just because I could march 7 miles in 3 to 5 glide step it did little or nothing for my skills in Foil and Epee.

I suppose though that you are right. I have dissapointed you somehow and have not lived up to what you expected, and others are posting more to your liking. I should be more like them...just for you:D
 

pgt

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ReadWryt innocently asks "...could someone show me where I was "Trolling" there? I seem to have missed something."

But didn't he previously sputter: "'your [PGT's] book' quite obviously fails to recognise the difference between stamina and skill ...".

Now we all know the difference between these words. Yet, Readwryt must insist that I obviously don't. The point of this was to elicit a response from moi. Perhaps you are not disappointed ReadWryt as you got what you wanted.

Followed promptly by the pointless analogy about marching and epees. Here Readwryt chooses wisely an analogy whereby a form of combat is used (epee) that is more heavily skewed towards skill compared to the basic task of marching 7 miles. It's interesting he chose not to make an analogy that included the usage of a heavy blunt weapons used in swings that is somewhat balanced in a need for both physical strenght and skill. Or are we to believe that flipping an epee is as easy as the heavy weapons in LOTR? Nice try - now how about an analogy w/ some 'weight' behind it?

Pops blasts: "JEEEEZUS, shut the hell up, already. "

My my wake up on the wrong side of the bed did we?
Where would you get the idea Dwarves aren't up to endurance. You may wish to review the books on the subject of Dwarves and even go as far back as the Hobbit. Endurance is probably one of their more renowned attributes. 185+ miles - well anybody can do it given enough time - but there's the speed or time issue. I wonder if you read this thread before posting? You're rehashing old ground we've already covered.

While Gimli wouldn't allow himself to be outdone by an elf, it is clear he is working hard to keep up and crashes every night. Legolas is held back by the other 2 and doesn't appear to sleep at night when the others crash seemingly in exhaustion. You did read this chapter didn't you?
 

Ciryaher

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Actually, dwarfs are a lot like orcs when it comes to endurance. They can run far under great burdens, relatively quickly.

Also note that maps drawn by hand are not entirely accurate, and what might seem to be a certain distance actually might be quite less (or greater, for that matter).

Just because YOU don't believe in it, doesn't mean it didn't happen; YOUR book be damned.
 

Pops

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Originally posted by pgt
Pops blasts: "JEEEEZUS, shut the hell up, already. "

My my wake up on the wrong side of the bed did we?
I am not the one berating moderators because they do not agree with me.

Where would you get the idea Dwarves aren't up to endurance.
Did you read my post? To clarify for the blind:

Originally posted by me:

"Dwarves are known for their endurance."

Insert quarter...try again

You may wish to review the books on the subject of Dwarves and even go as far back as the Hobbit. Endurance is probably one of their more renowned attributes. 185+ miles - well anybody can do it given enough time - but there's the speed or time issue. I wonder if you read this thread before posting? You're rehashing old ground we've already covered.
Based on my last comment, I don't hink I'm the one in need of reading this thread before posting

While Gimli wouldn't allow himself to be outdone by an elf, it is clear he is working hard to keep up and crashes every night. Legolas is held back by the other 2 and doesn't appear to sleep at night when the others crash seemingly in exhaustion. You did read this chapter didn't you?
Ahhh, yes...the always effective 'if-my-argument-gets-blown-to-hell-attack-those-who-don't-agree-with-me syndrome.
 

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