My team joined almost a thousand other competitors to take to the streets of London on Saturday 19 May to take part in the second annual charity fundraising Soldier Challenge run by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and adventure challenge specialists, Rat Race.
The event was a military themed urban adventure, using London as its playground, taking us wannabe soldiers around some of London’s most iconic landmarks and experiencing them through challenging ways. The challenge was to try and hit as many of the 35 check points located around London city as possible within a four hour window. Each checkpoint carried a different difficulty rating and therefore was worth different points accordingly.
We arrived at headquarters at 0800 promptly for registration to find London Waterloo’s old Eurostar terminal had been taken over by camouflage, cargo netting and soldiers dressed in all their gear. This could easily have been fairly intimidating, had it not been for all the friendly staff on hand which resulted in a very quick and easy registration, followed by an informative but jokey briefing, which also eased the nerves a little!
We then made our way to the start where Josh Lewsey provided us with one last pep talk, reminding us what this event was really about; helping raise awareness and funds which support current and former soldiers and their families throughout their lives.
Once the horn had gone, we made our way to grab a map and started to plot our strategy of attack on which checkpoints to get to according to their difficulty rating and how many points they were worth within the four hours. If you went over the four hour window you would have points quickly deducted for every five minutes you were late – so a plan was in order! We were allowed to use buses and tubes, but no other form of public transport (eg Boris Bikes). The event staff encouraged us to go by foot, not only because it was quicker, but to also get the proper soldier experience.
Challenges located throughout the Capital ranged from marching, drills, applying cammo paint, to abseiling, changing tyres, kayaking, paintballing plus lots more. During the four-hour window we managed to hit 16 checkpoints all across London. We visited the HMS Belfast, ran ourselves silly in an assault course at the Tower of London, kayaked in the Regent Canal, looked for clues in multiple TA centres and War Museums as well donning a sexy sumo suit to race in! The many checkpoints really were an eclectic mix of physical mental and comedy challenges, providing variety for everyone to enjoy. We only used public transport once, the tube, to make our way back to Waterloo as we had managed to cover a whopping 16k in running between each challenge.
After four hours of completing as many challenges as possible, we returned to headquarters to be welcomed by live bands, a bar, and military hardware such as logistics equipment and weapons on display to whet the appetites of anyone interested in the Army or role of soldiers. We also discovered that we had come second in the female team category, pipped by an actual team of soldiers who beat us by ten points!
All in all this was a fantastic event, and really opened my eyes to a glimpse of life as a soldier, and certainly reinforced respect of what they do and how fit they really have to be. Even putting on their helmet and feeling how heavy that one piece of equipment was for one of the challenges makes you appreciate their sound physicality. An inspiring event that is also a lot of fun and perfect for some team bonding.
However, my overall mission is still not yet complete. Two to go and I am nearly there. But, they’re getting tougher. Details on June’s challenge coming very soon.
Over and out.
To find out more about my experience of the Soldier Challenge, check out Sportsister’s features section for the event review coming soon!