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Sailors run to Hell and back for charity

Sailors run to Hell and back for charity
18 January 2017
A team from Portsmouth-based Type 23 Frigate HMS Iron Duke embarked on an unusual fundraising challenge by completing the ‘Hellrunner – Hell Down South’ extreme trail race on a cold January Saturday morning.

The self-styled ‘Two Six Heave’ team comprised 10 runners from HMS Iron Duke Weapon Engineering and Warfare Departments along with a few friends from the wider Naval family.  

Entry to the exceptionally difficult adventure race was coordinated by Lieutenant Paul Proctor RN, the Ship’s Deputy Weapon Engineer Officer who has completed the adventure race twice previously.  

Paul’s enthusiasm drove the team to successfully raise £415 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity in the process.

While the Ship was on its deployment to the Baltic last summer, Lt Proctor canvassed members of the Ship’s Company to join him in completing the race which consisted of a 10-mile run across Longmoor Military Training area with approximately 2,000 other competitors.  

The temperatures were unfortunately typical for a UK winter, enhanced by frozen mud puddles and snow on the forest floor at the start of the race, but this was to be no ordinary cross country run.

Known as one of the toughest extreme races in the country, the course was a long slog over sand dunes, countless mud hills, two river crossings, wading through a chest deep mud pond and finally culminating in the ‘Bog of Doom’, an icy cold 50m long mud pond lined on both sides with cheering spectators to mark the finish.

Team 'Two Six Heave'

Sporting white T-Shirts from left to right the team comprises of PO(Sea) Thompson (Buffer), Lt Proctor RN (DWEO), Sarah Beattie (civilian), Lt Cdr Lee (WEO) , POAWW Hunt, Matthew Lee, POCIS Ryan, Lt Key RN (DWEO-Desig), Lt Kirton (DWEO, HMS St Albans).

There was even a Devil, the race’s mascot, that was DJ-ing at the side of the finishing line to motivate the competitors through the remaining few metres of the race.  

Guaranteed receipt of all the pledged charity donations was reliant on some members of the team committing to ‘full immersion’ in the icy cold Bog of Doom prior to finishing the race.  

All the team agreed that the race was horrific in terms of the effort required to get around the course and they all made a significant dent in the calories accumulated over Christmas Leave!  

One of the more challenging aspects was that the exact length of the race was not known to the competitors, and part of the mental challenge of the race was that no distance markers were present on the course, simply arrows directing the runners the right way.

The only thing that didn’t survive contact with the course was the pristine white RNRM Charity T-Shirts which emerged from the finishing line in a delightful ‘mud-sludge’ grey, though they did act as a useful measure of commitment to ‘full immersion’ in the bog by revealing which team members got the wettest!  

Keen to involve his relief, Lieutenant Proctor even invited, Lieutenant Key to join the challenge 5 days before he was due to take over as Deputy Weapon Engineer Officer of the Ship!

Despite the freezing temperatures and the post-race aches and pains, most of the team have vowed to compete in Hell Runner next year and look forward to entering a larger team in early 2018!

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