Three pilots from RAF Brize Norton will attempt to run 447 miles in 17 days in memory of the servicemen and women who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan conflict. The run will take place during 14 to 30 April.
The Hercules pilots, Flt Lts Rob Platt, Graeme Hunt and Tom Mountney, who are a part of the RAF’s tactical air transport fleet, are hoping to raise money for Help for Heroes and a number of other military and civilian charities including the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation.
The gruelling run will start at RAF Brize Norton on the 14 April and take them all the way down to the south coast; visiting Yeovilton and Poole before heading back up the country past Stonehenge, through the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and back into Brize Norton for the final leg.
The first marathon stint of over 29 miles will bring the high flyers past Swindon, through Cricklade and Purton, to their first overnight stop in Royal Wootton Bassett, the town made famous when the residents turned out to mark the many repatriations of fallen servicemen who were flown back to Britain via RAF Lyneham before it closed.
Officer Commanding Number 47 Squadron, Wing Commander Garbutt (37) said: ‘’This is a mammoth undertaking and a fitting memorial to the British Servicemen and Women who have lost their lives in Afghanistan. Rob, Graeme and Tom have all trained hard in order to mentally and physically prepare for the arduous challenge ahead.’’
The experienced pilots have spent over four years away on operations between them, and in some cases have lost friends as a result of the conflict. A sad personal experience that led them to organise this event.
Officer Commanding Number 30 Squadron, Wing Commander Gault (44) said: ‘’ I cannot begin to imagine the physical demands on the body such a sustained ordeal will present. The motivation of supporting such a worthy causes will ensure they rise to the challenge.’’
Flight Lieutenant Tom Mountney said: “We felt that this was a fitting tribute to the service men and women who have not returned from Afghanistan, some of whom were our close friends and colleagues.
"Between the three of us, we’ve spent a large portion of our flying careers in Afghanistan – going for a run every day to raise some money is the least we could do.
"We’re raising funds for a number of military charities which we have a personal connection with. These charities have been set up as a result of the Afghan conflict, to either support returning service personnel or in memory of service personnel who have died.
"We hope the money will go some way to continue the outstanding work which these charities are doing on a daily basis.”
RAF Brize Norton personnel are well known for raising incredible amounts of money for charity. The recently disbanded Number 216 Squadron has raised £60,000 over the last year alone. The runners are hoping to raise £10,000 that will be split between their chosen charities.
Station Commander for RAF Brize Norton said: ‘’I am very proud of the runners who have put in a significant amount of time and effort to organise such a venture. It is a very poignant way to mark the number of Service personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their Country.’’
For those who wish to support them on their route, they will be setting off at 9am each day from their respective accommodation at military establishments along way.
For more information or, if you wish to donate, please visit their website www.444run.co.uk.