Imagine a 20-Tonne Ridgeback Armoured Personnel Carrier and how much of a challenge it would be to move without using its enormous 330HP diesel engine. Now imagine doing this challenge in the early hours of the morning, after working at least 12 hours through the day.
Is that hard enough, no? Well how about pulling this huge mechanical beast through the Desert of Death at Camp Bastion Afghanistan and doing so around a 26-mile marathon route. Now that’s a challenge! The Sond Chara (Red Dagger) Challenge to be precise.
This is exactly what soldiers from the General Service (GS) Sqn decided to do on Saturday night, the 4th of June. Due to the temperature dropping to a balmy 86 degrees overnight, the first team of 20 began this incredible feat of endurance and strength at midnight; each and every team member pulling the equivalent weight of a family car.
For obvious security reasons, the 5 relay teams could not leave Camp Bastion itself, choosing instead a 4.2 Km route that they had to complete 11 times in order to cover the full marathon distance. Taking slightly less than 71/2 hours, the weary team finished with the sun rising above the horizon, just in time for a shower and a few hours’ sleep, before heading back to work later that day within the Theatre Logistics Group.
The team are raising money for the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust (SDBTT), a charitable organisation raising funds for brain tumour research in the UK. This worthy cause was chosen in direct support of Mr Nigel Oxland, an MOD employee attached to the GS Sqn, whose son Kris has lived with a tumour for the past 9 years. The Sqn has so far raised almost £3000 towards their £10000 target and donations can be made through their Just Giving website.
Hailing the Sond Chara Challenge a complete success, the event organiser, Captain Tim Jarrett said: “it pushed everyone to their limits, I am so impressed that no one stopped, no one quit and we smashed this momentous challenge.”
Describing the challenge as ‘hideous’, Troop Commander Lieutenant Charlie Freed, said: “it felt like someone kept putting the brakes on repeatedly; before this I thought that Bastion was quite flat, but I felt every bump and incline in the straps on my shoulders.”