The Navy has never required prospective recruits to demonstrate much in the way of Forrest Gump-ian running talent prior to reporting to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, but changes are on the horizon.

Navy officials announced today that, starting Jan. 1, 2018, the service will implement an initial run test that all recruits will have to pass in order to begin recruit training.

A mile and a half will have to be covered, for men, in under 16 minutes and 10 seconds, and under 18 minutes and 7 seconds for women, the Navy said.

After passing the test, eligible recruits will be grouped according to fitness abilities and will begin working toward the standards of the Navy’s physical fitness assessment.

“It is the responsibility of each recruit to work hard and maintain all Navy standards,” said the commanding officer at Great Lakes, Capt. Mike Garrick. “Physical fitness is one of the greatest predictors of sailor success. Before they arrive to boot camp, recruits are expected to train to meet the physical fitness standards.”

Any sailor-hopeful who fails the initial test will have an opportunity to take it again within 48 hours, the Navy said, but failing a second time will result in the recruit receiving an entry-level separation discharge.

In this event, recruits can “reapply at a later date with a waiver from Navy Recruiting Command,” Navy officials said.

“The initial run standard raises the bar at RTC, helping us develop tough, more qualified sailors during basic military training and send a more lethal force to the fleet,” said Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, commander, Naval Service Training Command.

The Army, Air Force and Marine Corps have all employed some variant of an initial fitness test for years, and while the Navy is joining the club, the new run time requirements are still quite relaxed, comparatively.

Eligibility to ship out to Marine Corps boot camp, for example, requires male poolees to complete a mile and a half run in 13 minutes and 30 seconds, whereas women have 15 minutes to cover the same distance.

J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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