What started out as my desire to run my third marathon soon turned into something more. The XO, Squadron Leader Milburn turned round and said “Wouldn’t it be good to do three separate challenges rather than one?” So naturally it was agreed and ‘56(R) Sqn Trinity Challenge’ was born.
Five keen members of the Sqn decided to undertake the Paras’ 10, Chester Marathon and the Glen Shiel Ridge, in the Scottish Highlands. However, five soon reduced to four when the Squadron boss ‘tweaked’ his Achilles and had to withdraw, still giving us his full support of course. We decided to raise money for the following causes: Cancer Research UK, Hounds for Heroes & Lincoln BABIES (a fund-raising group for the Nocton Ward at Lincoln Hospital that cares for premature babies).
The first challenge involved a quick drive up to Catterick to take part in the Paras’ 10, a multi-terrain endurance event run by the Parachute regiment that involves a 10 Mile cross country route, carrying a Bergen weighing 35Ibs and wearing boots. As a guide the Paratroopers P Company selection cut off time is 1 hr 50 minutes. The event did not start well, our four intrepid competitors turning up fit and raring to tackle any challenge, unfortunately I had earned the nick name ‘Glass back Jarvis’ as I had ‘conveniently’ strained my back (picking up my cat!) and would have to undertake the event carrying no weight. The added fact of clear blue skies and high temperatures and a last minute delay to the start due to late arrivals, all four of us managed to finish with FS Paul Jones even finishing under the selection cut off time earning him plenty of admiration.
The second event was the Chester Marathon in early October; running in the North West we expected wind and rain but instead were greeted with cool temperatures and a gentle breeze. We were joined in this event by Sergeant Sue Wibberley who fancied a gentle jog. After arriving at the course with 10 minutes to spare we all went about preparing for the following 26.2 miles, all that is except for Flight Lieutenant Martin Bindemann who decided to have a sausage bap and mug of coffee, something he would ‘OH SO’ regret a few miles into the course when he had to pay an emergency visit to the ‘little boys room’!
Each team member fought their own individual battles to overcome the delight of all 26 miles, with a notable performance by Sue Wibberley who was the first of the 56(R) Sqn personnel to finish. The event turned out to be a great success with three of the team coming home in under 4 hours including myself who managed to overcome my back problems to ensure finishing under my target time of four hours with 6 seconds to spare!
The final event was to walk The Glen Shiel ridge in the Scottish Highlands. The ridge is comprised of 7 Munros (peaks over 3000 feet) which we hoped to complete within a 12 hour period. Having agreed all along that the team wanted the last challenge to be a real physical and mental challenge Warrant Officer Tom Mew (Team guide) ensured this was the case, not only planning and leading us on an exceptionally testing course but he even managed to book some exceptionally testing weather as well.
Starting very early (i.e. in the dark) the team, along with four more volunteers, set off from the ‘Cluanie Inn’ up the initial gentle slopes, heading for the first munro, ‘Creag A Mhaim’. Having reached the first peak we were greeted by an exceptionally typical ‘fresh’ Scottish frosty morning and some absolutely glorious views. This continued all along the ridge until the approach to peak five, where the team noted a ‘little bit’ of cloud approaching. By the time we had reached peak six, we were in near white-out conditions in a full blizzard.
This made the navigation from Munro five to six ‘interesting’ and ensured that in near zero visibility, approaching the final summit, of the final challenge, the team had to dig deep yet again to successfully conquer the final event. The team had asked for a real challenge to finish the Trinity Challenge and Warrant Officer Mew had certainly delivered it by the bucket load, including the snow.
The Trinity Challenge was without a doubt a tremendous success for all involved, not only raising a credible £1500, but proving to be a superb experience and team building event for all squadron personnel involved. Congratulations must be passed onto all participants for their supreme efforts in not only training but also the successful completion of each event.
Thanks to OC 56(R) Sqn for granting permission to undertake the challenge, to squadron personnel for all their support without which we would not have succeeded and finally to all those who donated monies to some very worthwhile causes. Particular mention to St George’s nursing home in Oldham. The staff raised a considerable amount of money and also provided us with our one supporter and banner for the Chester Marathon.