Having previously competed twice in the famous ‘Paras 10’, a gruelling 10 mile endurance race organised by the Parachute Regiment Charity, Cheshire ACF PI Steve Evans decided to take on the challenge again in 2014 to raise money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. This time, to add to the challenge, Steve decided to ‘tab’ it – complete the course carrying a Bergen weighing 35lb (excluding food and water) and wearing long trousers with military boots. He shared his experience with us:
I first ran the Para’s 10 at Colchester when a friend serving with the Royal Marine’s suggested it. I loved it so much I decided to run the event again at Catterick in 2013. I ran Catterick in 1 hour 32 minutes but felt like I’d missed something by not tabbing it. My friend said I would end up tabbing them so, never one to turn down a challenge, I entered both in 2014 – this time tabbing.
I decided I should use the events to do something positive for the Army, as I had recently joined the ACF (I’m a PI at Frodsham Detachment). I wanted to try and raise as much as I could for the ABF so I contacted the charity who supported me in my fundraising, and I set up a ‘Just Giving’ webpage.
I did my best to train locally – tricky, living in rather flat Cheshire. With the training done it was time for the Para’s 2014. As in previous years, the events took place in Colchester and Catterick.
There were 2200 entries for the two events but only 180 had signed up for both this year, the two races menacingly described as t
he ‘Double of Trouble’ (you get a special T-shirt if you do both which is always a motivation for me!).
Race One, Colchester, and the race was started by the firing of artillery pieces. Runners started five minutes ahead of the ‘tabbers’. I just about remembered the course from the previous run (although not that accurately as it was far hillier than I remembered). It was also the hottest day of the year up to that point so that made it a bit of a challenge. I had decided to carry 2 litres of water which was a good idea but did make my daysack a little heavy!
The course had two river crossings, both with Para’s firing blanks and setting off pyrotechnics to make it a little more interesting. We also had to run down and out of a deep sand pit three times, which was exhausting and I’m sure hadn’t been there the year before!
I made it round in 2 hours and 6 minutes – not quick enough to join the Parachute Regiment, but not bad for a 47-year-old man who has a desk job!
So that was one down, now was time for the big one: Catterick.I think most people were caught off guard by the weather; it was a beautiful sunny Yorkshire day (I spend a lot of time working in Yorkshire and I know sunny days are few and far between).It is a rather brutal way to spend time – the races always start at 1100hrs, just when it’s starting to get warm with the sun directly overhead.
I had very clear memories of the Catterick course from the run the previous year. If you’re not going uphill you’re going downhill, it’s a constant stream of painful hills! The Major who delivered the race briefing pointed out that it was half a vertical mile up (and down again!) through the length of the course, and it certainly felt that hilly.
Things were going well until I got cramp in the water crossing at eight miles. The last two miles were very hard work but I gritted my teeth and cracked on. With about half a mile to go I could hear the crowd in the distance, and I knew I wanted to finish strong so I put in my final effort driven on by the crowd cheering everyone on.
I was handed my medal by Lt Gen Jonathan Page, which was great, and I just managed to get out a ‘thank you sir’ before stumbling off to get the timing chip cut off my boot.
I managed two hours and 23 minutes, not brilliant but not too bad. I have to say, despite the heat, pain and discomfort, I will be doing it again next year and there’s a possibility that they may run Aldershot too, making it the Treble of Pain – can’t wait!
If you are able to support me in my fund raising the link to my Just Giving Website is: https://www.justgiving.com/Steve-Evans20/