Exercise Cyprus Challenge

A Coy – 4 LANCS by 2Lt Cherry

The start of Exercise Cyprus Challenge began as every overseas military exercise does; crammed into a minibus heading down to Brize Norton so you can arrive numerous hours before your flight. However, on this occasion, we were lucky. We had been given the chance to swap the dour British weather for blazing sunshine and all we had to do was compete in a consecutive 4-day running event—surely, a piece of cake.

The Team

Myself, Sgt Cook, Cpl Spencer, Lcpl Gubb, Lcpl Turner and Lcpl Gilroy—finally arrived at Episkopi Garrison and made ourselves at home in the transit block. The following day consisted of acclimatisation, picking up our hire cars and heading up to Coral Beach Hotel & Resort, to register the team. Goody bags received, we headed back to Episkopi where some of the competition had arrived in the form of First Fusilier’s cross country team.

The race brief

Up early, we travelled to Paphos for the race brief. After much applause and some rather intimidating route maps, we were done. Finally, we had arrived at the first event of the Challenge, a 6k Time Trial around north Paphos. This event proved a nice introduction to the Challenge, allowing us to stretch our legs and get used to the heat. Content with ourselves, we headed back home to get some rest; we would need it.

The second route of the Challenge was the 11k Hill Race. In spite of the name, none of us actually expected the hill to last for all 11k—well, it did. After a gruelling run in the blistering heat, on a track which consisted entirely of sharp rocks and unstable surfaces, the race was finally over. My calves were in bits and I was feeling apprehensive about the half-marathon the next day. Luckily, an ice-cream truck was at the race end to keep morale up.

The day of the half-marathon arrived and with sore legs, the team made its way to the start point. To my surprise, this race proved rather enjoyable. Starting from where we had climbed to the day before, we had a nice run downhill before embarking on a 16k straight along the coast to finish! The weather was amazing and the views gorgeous, making it an enjoyable run. Though trying to get out of the car when we arrived back at Episkopi was a challenge.

The final event

As seems to be the case with running competitions we arrived at 0800 to find club-music blaring on the start line, a commentator riling us up and a huge amount of runners as this event was also open as an individual event. With the last of their strength, the team powered through the 10k circuit, achieving great times in spite of having run for 4 consecutive days. Best of all, we arrived at the finish to be greeted with our medals and a cold pint of the local beer. A fitting end to a great exercise which was enjoyed by all.

Reserve Forces