If you feel that walking to the shops wearing a face covering is a challenge, spare a thought for two Gloucestershire – based soldiers who marked Remembrance Day by running 32.5 miles of the Cotswold Way wearing military grade gas masks.
Their challenge began at Chipping Campden’s war memorial as dawn broke and their only break was at 11am when they stopped for two minutes to remember fallen comrades.
They’d reached Charlton Kings, in Cheltenham, and climbed a total of 4,600 feet in height as well as covered the 30-mile distance when it became too dark to continue any further in safety.
While the run’s length would be regarded as quite an achievement by most people, warrant officer Tommy Whitehead, who came up with the plan during the first lockdown, earlier in the year, is now planning to use it as a practice event for an even tougher endurance challenge in 2021.
That’s when his running partner, Corporal Henry Gibson, along with a third colleague, Corporal Connor Woods, who didn’t join them on Remembrance Sunday because he was on duty, will attempt a 100 mile run, again wearing the gas masks along most of the Cotswold Way in January.
They are doing it to raise funds for SSAFA, (the Soldiers Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association) which is the country’s longest established armed force’s charity.
Their initial plan was to have friends and colleagues collect donations for the charity along the gruelling 102-mile-long cross-country trail, but decided that would be impossible when the second lockdown was announced, meaning they now have to adhere to the government’s social-distancing rules.
Instead they have launched an online appeal to raise funds for the work SSAFA carries out to help dead and injured colleagues and are now using three internet fundraising sites to spread the word about the charity’s work.
They set their pace for Sunday’s run as one that would be a realistic practice for the longer distance they will attempt in the New Year .
Said Tommy Whitehead: “As well as running in the general service respirators, we will also be carrying pictures of fallen comrades on each of our events, in memory of the sacrifices they and their families have made on behalf of the country.
“Our original aim was to raise £25,000 for SSAFA because it’s a charity which supports not only former members of our armed forces who have been injured, or found themselves having hard times, but also members of their families who now need assistance.
“In the current Covid climate, most charities which depend on donations are suffering and donations are harder to come by than ever. We decided if the going gets tough then we have to do something tough to compensate.”
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