The challenge, done in aid of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Royal Marines Benevolent Fund, was organised by Captain Rajendran and Warrant Officer Class 2 McFarlane from B Squadron, Close Support Medical Regiment, on behalf of the UK Medical Group. WO2 McFarlane said:
The stretcher-carry is an iconic image of the medics. The stretcher-bearers in the First and Second World Wars were the unsung heroes, proceeding into enemy fire to rescue the wounded. I’ve been in the Medical Regiment for 16 years and I’m passionate about providing the best care to personnel.
This was an excellent fitness challenge and it was very pleasing to see other units coming in to try and get the best time. I hope this now continues, and it would be nice to come out here in a couple of years and see the event still being run.
The charities chosen provide excellent care to those in need and we’re just pleased to be able to help them.
Camp Bastion hospital is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading centres for trauma care and recently took delivery of brand new state-of-the-art CT scanners and ventilators to give patients the highest possible level of care.
The 80 people who undertook the run were split into eight teams and completed 113 laps of the mile-long (1.6km) course with a stretcher weighing 110lbs (50kg), taking it in turns to carry the stretcher an hour at a time.
The challenge drew the attention of other units in Bastion, and soon there were several teams vying to get the fastest time.
The Royal Marines of 6 Troop, B Company, 40 Commando, were the first to take up the challenge, smashing the previous record of nine minutes nine seconds with an impressive six minutes 42 seconds, whilst wearing fancy dress!
However, not to be outdone, members of the headquarters squadron of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) took up the challenge and posted a time of six minutes 17 seconds.
The medics continued the challenge into the night, reaching the 100-mile (161km) mark at around 0400hrs. With the sun coming up, 40 Commando were determined to get their crown back and put in a sterling effort to complete the lap in six minutes 15 seconds, pipping the engineers by just two seconds.
The fastest time from the medics was an impressive seven minutes 52 seconds, completed in desert boots by the team from B Squadron.
It was left to the medics though to bring the stretcher home, and after their mammoth effort there were unsurprisingly a few tired faces. Yet the smiles from everyone were evidence enough that they had thoroughly enjoyed the challenge which they hope will now take place every six months with the rotation of UK forces.