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Royal Marine plans 630 mile epic run around the West Country

29 February 2016
Veteran Royal Marines Commando WO Baz Gray intends to break a record and raise £10k for fellow green berets when he takes on one of the most demanding runs in the world.

Baz, who’s Regimental Sergeant Major of 30 Commando IX Group based at Stonehouse in Plymouth, aims to complete all 630 miles of the South West Coast Path, which follows the shoreline and cliffs of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, finally ending in Poole in Dorset, in under ten days – not just beating the existing record (11 days and eight hours) but smashing it.

A veteran of tours of duty with the Corps in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, Baz is also a seasoned adventurer; he’s one of only two men who’ve successfully re-enacted Shackleton’s heroic voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia.

And he’s also a long-time fund-raiser, supporting worthy causes with a 24-hour non-stop skiing marathon in -30˚C temperatures, a 1,000-mile roller-ski from John O’Groats to Land’s End, and a 176-mile 48-hour non-stop trek on the coast path between Poole and Lympstone and back.

The full coast path run/jog/walk is of a different magnitude – and it’s not just about distance. He’ll be climbing the equivalent of four times the height of Everest as he wends his way around the West Country.

I’ve lost a lot of friends and a lot of friends will need assistance for the rest of their lives.

Royal Marines Commando WO Baz Gray

“The terrain is challenging so that sustaining an injury is a risk," Baz explained. "One ankle twist could jeopardise the whole thing. So it will be a very tough ten days, averaging 63 miles a day.

“I’m preparing well. I’m running every day, with one long run each weekend. I’ll increase that long run between now and the start, with a maximum of 40 miles in a day in my training. Once the challenge starts, I’ll need to take care of my nutrition, strength and my pace.

“It’ll be a brisk walk for the most part, with some jogging downhills. I want people to come and join me, so I’ll be going at a pace that’s do-able for most people.”

He begins his Solo 630 in Minehead at 10am on Monday April 25 and has set his goal on reaching the end of the path in Poole some time before 10am on Thursday 5 May.

Baz is hoping 1,000 members of the public will join him along the way to offer some moral support – his route and stopover details can be found on the Solo 630 Facebook page – and he’s hoping they, and you, dip into their pockets to raise money for Royal Marines charities.

In addition, he’s hoping his epic journey will highlight the work of the charity The Baton, which raises the awareness of Britain’s military and their families, and South West Coast Path Association which maintains the path.

“The Royal Marines have been hit really hard in the past ten to 5 years,” said Baz, who leaves the commandos later in 2016 after 26 years’ distinguished service.

“I’ve lost a lot of friends and a lot of friends will need assistance for the rest of their lives.

“We’re a small organisation, a small family, and when anyone in that family wants assistance they and their families get it throughout all of their lives as a result of these charities.

“But fundraising isn’t always easy, especially when things aren’t in the news. We have to keep the fundraising momentum going so that the charities can continue to help everyone that needs support.”

You can provide financial support to Baz via www.justgiving.com/solo630/ and follow his progress before and during the trek via www.facebook.com/solo630 and@graybazza1 on Twitter.

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