British soldiers serving in Afghanistan have seen in the New Year by undertaking marathons at their bases to raise money for charity.
The Camp Bastion half-marathon was undertaken on New Year’s Day by more than 800 personnel from all over the world to raise cash for the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association (BLESMA).
Troops from various UK regiments in 20th Armoured Brigade took part including those from the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG), also known as ‘The Welsh Cavalry’.
The QDG soldiers running included Lance Corporal James Sudlow, LCpl Symons and LCpl Mosley, who are all part of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), which take to the ground in armoured vehicles to gather intelligence and strike at insurgents.
LCpl Sudlow, said:
It was great to find the time and take part in today’s marathon. Seeing the New Year in by running this marathon was fantastic. BLESMA is a very worthy cause. Happy New Year.
LCpl Symonds said
This is my first New Years Day on operations, so normally I am recovering from the night before! But today I am supporting the BLESMA charity and seeing the new year in by running a worthy 13 miles [21km]. Great fun.
Other runners included soldiers from the Brigade Troop Echelon, which is responsible for getting equipment forward to more than 1,500 soldiers on the front line.
Meanwhile, at the British headquarters base in Lashkar Gah, on New Year’s Day four soldiers tackled a full marathon to raise cash also for (BLESMA as well as The Felix Fund and the Wimbish Station Injured Soldiers Fund.
Major Rich Hallett, Captain Anna Hamilton, Major Jerry Denning and Captain Jim McCarthy decided to take on the gruelling 26-mile [42km] challenge by running 20 laps of the main British base at Lashkar Gah.
Fuelled by tea, chocolate bars, and bananas, the quartet set off at a chilly 0700hrs to pound the gravel track around the base. The route included the busy helicopter landing site, where the occasional landing aircraft forced the runners to make a swift detour.
The four were supported by other headquarters staff who were on hand to provide morale-raising hot drinks and an accurate count of each runner’s laps.
The idea was the brainchild of Major Rich Hallett, from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, who completed the challenge in just three hours 27 minutes.
Major Hallett, who is the Officer Commanding 521 EOD Squadron in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, said:
It seemed like a really good idea two weeks ago to see the New Year in with a marathon to raise a bit of money for three worthwhile charities. In spite of literally no training, we all managed to get round the course in good time, in no small part due to the help provided by the headquarters team.
Captain Anna Hamilton from the Royal Engineers, who is currently serving as the adjutant for the EOD and Search Task Force said:
This was my first marathon for a long time, so I really only intended to do a half-marathon. But as I got into it I got into my stride and just kept on going. It felt great to be able to start the New Year with something like this, which obviously supports charities that do a lot to help those in our unit injured by IEDs.
My work is a desk-based job and it is great to do something practical to support such a good cause.