On April 10th 2011, Privates Chard and Harrison (James and Paul) successfully undertook their first challenge for Blindfolded Marathon: the Brighton Marathon. As you can see from the photo alongside, they carried bergens of 20kg, and were additionally inconvenienced by being blindfolded, Paul for the first thirteen miles, and then James on to the finish line.
The challenge was to raise awareness and funds for St. Dunstan’s, a Brighton-based nationwide charity, whose aim is to provide life-long support to blind ex-service men and women.
Race day temperatures, reported as a mini heatwave by the BBC, soared well-above those experienced during training, and seven thousand registered runners did not even attempt the race.
In the end, the Combat Medics from A Squadron, 254 Medical Regiment, based in Norwich, completed the event in seven hours thirty minutes, having had to stop to allow painfully swollen and splitting fingers to reduce in size. Nothing would have prevented them from completing the challenge, and the men were very grateful for the constant words of encouragement, support, and praise they received all round the course. Special thanks, too, to the Army Physical Training Instructor from Keogh barracks who spurred them on.
In the end, those with mental toughness finished, and this quality is exactly what inspired the challenge in the first place. Soldiers wounded terribly in combat, as is unfortunately the case, so often can be seen to find the positive in their situation, and turn their lives around finding new meaning, whilst helping others in ways they might never have believed possible earlier in their lives. Examples such as Falklands’ veteran Simon Weston, and Ranger Andy Allen who was injured in Afghanistan recently and whose story was told in the BBC documentary “Wounded”, have shown us how through adversity comes strength, determination and resilience. How pertinent then, that the soldiers who have started Blindfolded Marathon, are from the Royal Army Medical Corps, whose motto is “In Arduis Fidelis“: Steadfast in Adversity.
Below is a selection of images from the day. The Justgiving page where you can sponsor the Brighton Marathon effort will be open until 10th July 2011. Expect news soon about the next challenge, though; this is just the beginning.