Category Archives: Armed forces

Event 1 done – Rutland half marathon

It’s a week since the Rutland Spring half marathon, the aches have gone and it’s time to reflect.

Completing my first half marathon is something I’m pretty proud of. It was a physical challenge with a very real possibility of failure. I knew other things in my life had taken priority in terms of time (namely the final stages of initial teacher training) making training more haphazard than I would like. Despite the lack of an actual plan I had built the distance up steadily and hoped will-power/stubbornness was enough to see me over the final mile or so. That and the knowledge we had raised around £400 for a great cause.

This was the first Rutland Spring Half Marathon and as such I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Registration was pretty straight forward, we joked with the volunteers about this being a birthday present and got ready to pin our numbers on and Velcro the timing chip to our ankle. As the run began there was a lovely couple of downhills to get us going (the fact downhill at the start means uphill at the finish did not escape me!). The course was undulating with some particularly cheeky hills at around mile 4. The run around the peninsular was long and winding with cute lambs and lake views to keep us company. The road back to the finish was tough mentally as the views vanished and were replaced with constant road. Turning back onto the trail was a godsend and with it the mile markers let me know I was entering I chartered territory. The final stages involved a water point, looking up seeing a hill, swearing at myself, putting one foot in front of the other, seeing another hill, a little more swearing, seeing the ever supportive Becky, trying not to swear at her “encouragement”, before the final push to the finish line. As I crossed the line I stopped my watch and that was it, my first half marathon done! Or was it? Having uploaded my run onto Strava (if it’s not on Strava has it actually happened?) I look at the distance and there it is, 120m short – Gutted! Having looked at other people’s data from the same event they’ve all registered above 13.1 miles. So do I count it as a successful half marathon or was it short?

Prior to this experience I always looked at people that ran “longer” distances (I.e. anything farther than 5-10km) as a bit odd. I mean have you seen those guys smiling away as they run for a few hours making it look easy. Having ran 13(ish) miles I think I may be one of those odd people. I enjoyed it, kind of anyway. Ok I didn’t exactly smile my way through it, or make it look easy, but I can see the attraction to running for an extended period. I finished within my target time yet with a nagging feeling I could go faster and a want, almost a need, to do another half marathon (at least).

The thing that attracts me to these challenges is that in today’s society we focus so much on making things easier and quicker. Think about it, you can order a meal at the touch of a button, cycle to work with the aid of an electrical bike, and if you need to travel say 13.1 miles you drive. These challenges though bypass that, you enter the challenge and it is your physical time and effort that gets you to the finish line. It’s also amazing the variety of people you see running these events, tall/small, little/large, old/young. You see people running because they actually enjoy it, running for charity, and those who look like they’ve stumbled across the event and got dragged along with the fun. Yet everyone has an appreciation for each other’s effort and a shared goal to complete their aim.

This half marathon was just the start of our fundraising journey for Scotty’s Little Soldiers, we’ve got Rat Race Dirty Weekend in 4 weeks. Scotty’s is an amazing charity that supports children who have lost parents in the forces, aiming to put a smile on the children who form a group none of them wanted to enter. We chose this charity because my dad served 22 years, completing a number of active tours. Thankfully he always returned, a fact I am forever grateful for and one I will never take for granted. Others were less fortunate and this charity does a great job in ensuring those children are never forgotten.

If you would like to support our fundraising efforts please follow this link.

Thumbs up for the OCR community!


Unusually for me I signed up for an OCR on my own, no friends or family running with me, I was entering unknown territory. To add to the challenge I signed up for the suffering race notorious for its “not less than” statements that preceed it’s distances. I signed up for the 10km (read Not less than 10km) my longest OCR to date.

I arrived at Rockingham castle to the view of a water container to be climbed into and out of, followed shortly be the maze of fences to be climbed/vaulted, cue the adrenaline fuelled butterflies. Registration over and I find myself surrounded by teams of strangers wearing red, black and white tops and the mythical group known only as “Legends”. Looking at some of the obstacles that were ahead and feeling distinctly alone I began questioning the sanity of signing up. Shortly after the smoke went up I found myself standing on some guys shoulder, before helping a lady down a muddy slope. I soon realised I wasn’t on my own I was with a much larger all-encompassing team, the OCR community. This sense of camaraderie continued throughout the 3+ hours I was on the course.

man.jpgIn addition to other participants the marshals were fantastic, two marshals made my day. Firstly the girl by the first cargo net wearing a dryrobe whom made the waiting for the obstacle fly by as we performed a group rendition of “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” and “If you’re happy and you know it…” a real mood lifter as the heavens opened and the thunder rolled in. The second shout out goes to the guy at the bottom of the log carry wearing a muddy race buff whose attitude made everyone laugh.


I’m not going to write a full review as I’m confident those with far more extensive OCR experience will offer there opinions and write a more informed review. However as a relative newbie I found the suffering a great experience, I have learned that walls and ropes are not as easy as they look and an increase in overall strength is a must, bring on the training! Aerobically I felt good, which was just as well given that “Not less than 10km” actually equated to 14-15km.

The obvious question everyone asks is “would you do it again?” in all honesty yes I would, in fact I’ll go further than that and say I intend on taking part in the October series, I just haven’t decided what distance. Would I recommend the event to others, undoubtedly yes, but don’t take it lightly the name is not just a gimmick!

As I’ve said in previous blogs  (getting started ) these blogs are tracking my journey into the OCR community and through to participation in the rat race Dirty weekend next year. This journey is not all about personal achievements and enjoyment but also raising funds for two great charities. Please take the time to read the previous blogs and if you feel fit support us in our fundraising efforts by clicking the link.

support Karli and Pete

Fathers day, windermere and orange tshirts.

I’ve had some great feedback following my last post which is great, firstly because it means other people are actually reading this blog and secondly, and more importantly, more people are being exposed to our charities. If you were kind enough to read my last blog you will probably have noticed a sense of pride in my dads achievements in the forces. With today being fathers day I figured it would be the ideal time to expand on this.


I was born in the coastal town of Hartlepool, both parents were 17 years old and the opportunities for a bright future weren’t exactly overflowing. When I was 3 my dad signed on the dotted line and became a soldier, he also bought me an army teddy called Frank (more on that later), from then on I grew up believing my dad was a hero. Everyday he went out in the uniform and did whatever soldiers do (probably ironing and polishing his boots), whatever it was I knew it was a special job.


I remember once when having a “hero” as a dad wasn’t so cool. It was the middle of the Bosnian conflict (ok it probably wasn’t his idea) to help other boys and girls have a good Christmas (I think there was more to his deployment than that). I was devastated and did what any self respecting child would do, I chucked my trusty Frank at my dad telling him he “might as well give Frank to those kids too, and demonstrated exactly what a good sulk was. Not my proudest moment. Looking back though I’m immensely proud that of everything he achieved and grateful to him, and my mam for supporting him and running the family unit, for making the difficult decision to leave the town they grew up knowing and embark on a journey into the unknown.


Well that’s enough of a trip down memory lane , back to this week and training. I spent last weekend supporting my wife and mother inlaw as they took part in the great North Swim. This was my first experience of this event and it was so well organised and supported I’m confident it won’t be my last. After a tough week training I really needed a relaxing weekend, camping was not what the doctor ordered. Being stubborn I ignored my achey, tired body and went on a short but hilly run which just left me frustrated at the slow km averages and heavy legs. This has had a knock on effect for the whole week with my training never really getting back up to where I have been.


Looking at the positives though I’m going to be having a “recovery/taper” week as I am one week out from my first “the suffering race” experience. Since I’ve done one 5km already this year and I don’t like the colour orange (the colour of the 5km logo) I’ve signed up for the 10km (there goes that chimp again). I actually can’t wait although I’m slightly nervous given the increase in distance and it being my first event without my family running with me. This also marks my first event on our fundraising journey culminating in the Rat Race dirty weekend next year.

Why I’m running.

It has been just over a month since I signed up for the Rat Race Dirty weekend, since then I’ve been asked on numerous occasions “why?”. It would be easy to use the infamous quote of “because it’s there” or even more simply because “I like a challenge”, but whilst these both ring true there is a much deeper answer. You see when people ask the question “where are you from” the answer isn’t as simple as “insert name place here”, I was born in Hartlepool but my dad made the decision to join the army when I was three so have lived in numerous places since. For that reason I don’t have a real connection with any one place, I do however have a strong sense of belonging to the forces community, even now that I am settled in Leeds and my dad has retired from the forces.

I found transitioning from living in a forces environment to being a student immersed in civilian student life. I had time to be able to adjust to this transition but for some the transition comes out of the blue often initiated by some form of catastrophic event. The unsung heroes in the forces are those left behind whilst those serving perform the duties for which they are trained. The wives and families that keep the home running, the kids happy, the Christmases’, birthdays and school holidays as normal as possible, all whilst acting as the mother, the father and managing their own worries and concerns. As a child growing up I waved my dad off several times knowing, although perhaps not understanding, that he may not return. I will forever be grateful that he always returned home safe. Many families are not so fortunate and for every soldier who pays the ultimate price for his country there are colleagues, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives/husbands and children who must continue to pay that price. It is for these reasons that we have chosen two forces charities to raise funds and awareness for in our journey to completing the dirty weekend.

The first of our charities is Scotty’s little soldiers . Remember the unsung heroes I spoke about in the paragraph above? Well one of these is Nicky, she lost her husband Corporal Scott and as a result of the impact this event had on her family she set up this wonderful charity to offer support to bereaved families. The charity offers support in dealing with the emotional turmoil as a result of bereavement, it offers support, activities and respite that helps these young people realise that it is ok to smile again and helps those who are a little older plan their future through further education grants. Scotty’s is doing great things raising awareness for the unique circumstances and challenges these young people face. They have recently announced “Scotty’s day” in July and I for one cannot wait to wear my Scotty’s “tattoo” and t-shirt for the day.


The second charity is The Royal British Legion . The charity is most noted for the Poppy appeal and this years celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Somme, but their work continues year round. They help ensure the memory of those fallen are never forgotten, the needs of those serving are met with support, care and guidance, they support veterans, the families of the forces community and bereaved families. The Royal British Legion stands by those who have previously served maintaining that sense of community and belonging. I for one feel an immense sense of pride when I see veterans of all ages parading alongside current serving soldiers whilst children cheer and wave their flags aloft. The Royal British Legion play a large role in facilitating these proud moments and long may it continue.


The added motivation of knowing that actually signing up for these events and enjoying yourself is really a small price to pay to help raise awareness and funds (Karli and Petes fundraising page) for these worthwhile charities, when I know I have a tough training day planned or I really don’t want to go to the gym or outside for a run I think about the reasons I’m doing it and those thoughts are quickly dispersed. As for training I cannot remember being more motivated or enjoying training as much as I am right now, I see my dads Strava feed and see his progress and activity levels and begin to see the holistic benefits, the bigger picture of signing up for a challenging event. There are plenty out there, Running, Swimming, triathlon and obstacle/mud running are just a few of these.