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Charity ‘Rock Run’ challenge to attempt Guinness World Record

Eyleen Gomez

Gibraltar could be the location of a Guinness World Record if a team from the charity Waterloo Uncovered complete their 12 hour ‘Rock Run’ challenge.

On May 14, 2021 at 5am six runners will commence a 12 hour challenge that will take them from the top and bottom of the Rock in a relay format.

Two of the men taking part Ben Mead and Luke Jules from the charity were on the Rock this week to lay down the foundations of the challenge and to meet with various people such as the Governor, Sir David Steel.

Mr Mead is a veteran who served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and considers himself lucky despite getting injured in 2012 in a helicopter incident in Afghanistan and suffered a back, neck and shoulder injury. A few years later in 2015 it took a toll on his mental health and he was told he needed to do something about it if he wanted to see his 40th birthday. So he did and he became part of Waterloo Uncovered.

Despite injuries and the pain he clearly must have at times Mr Mead will undertake the Waterloo Uncovered Rock Run Relay 2021. However, he is no stranger to challenges having completed an ultramarathon in the Artic and most recently he walked the distance from Waterloo, London to Waterloo Belgium and back a total distance of 724.2Km over a matter of months.

He walked 10kms every night along his hometown Eastbourne Seafront in all weathers carrying 25+Kgs in weight.

Mr Mead also served in Gibraltar during his time in the military and had taken part in the famous ‘Rock Run’.

“It seems fitting to do a sponsored Rock Run for Waterloo Uncovered in 2021,” he said.

The team will consist of six runners and support crew with the running team being split into two teams.

“The bottom runners will start from The Royal Navy Dockyard to head up to the summit of the Rock and the top runners to start from the summit of the Rock and finish at Royal Navy Dockyard,” he said.

“This would mean every member of the team gets time to rest and take on food and water before heading off again.”

His idea led to further thinking and he researched if a challenge like this was ever in the Guinness World Records and it wasn’t.

“Why not make this the first ever Rock of Gibraltar Relay Guinness World Record Attempt to set a record for the people of Gibraltar. But the runners are all veterans with mental or physical injuries and this will show that in regards to injuries you can still enjoy life,” he said.

He is asking that the people of Gibraltar get behind the challenge, support them and come out on the day to encourage the runners who will no doubt be more fatigued as the 12 hours tick tock along.

Waterloo Uncovered

“Waterloo Uncovered was founded by a pair of army officers from the Coldstream Guards. One of our CEOs Mark [Evans] left the army with Post Trauma Stress Disorder after Afghanistan and him and his mate Charlie Foinette who knew each other from university and had done archaeology together. They did a bit of research using archaeology as a therapy tool for mental health,” he said.

“When we go out to Waterloo to do archeologic digs you have got a fair few veterans who have mental and physical health conditions everything from Iraq and Afghanistan to back in Northern Ireland. But, being taught how to dig a trench meticulously and uncover history is a very calm process and is taught in a very similar way to some of the basic military skills.”

“A nice environment, outside and they wanted to find a way to use archaeology as a practical therapy tool for people.”

It was also important that they found archaeology that the military people would care about and it was linked back to something in the grander family that is the army.

The Coldstream Guards had a famous action in Waterloo and the two men thought maybe they could do archelogy there. It turned out no one had done any archaeology on the site of the battlefield. They then started the process of the area becoming a site for digs and Waterloo Uncovered was born. The site is a proper archeologic site with a strong archaeological wing forming part of the charity.

“We have uncovered human remains there, at hospital sites and a few others things,” said Mr Jules.

“A lot of them left the armed forces with either mental or physical difficulties or both a lot of people get pretty isolated. You are not in the family [the army] anymore and if have you mental health problems it often separates you from your blood family and people struggle.”

“But, that allows a lot of the guys who I have been speaking with in the trenches to have a link back to the charity and the people who were there and also a link back to the history.”

“If you are working on the battle site and find musket balls embedded in walls or whatever it might be, you are thinking guys were shooting this with Brits, French and Germans over 200 years ago and they were in the exact same situation that I was in when I was in Northern Ireland or wherever it might be.”

The charity takes archaeologists, therapists, veterans and a small number of serving personnel like Mr Jules who is an RAF pilot. He has flown the C130 Hercules into Gibraltar previously on a few occasions but this was his first visit where he actually got to enjoy and see the Rock he will scale numerous times next year.

Participants in the programme come from a wide variety of service backgrounds, from Chelsea Pensioner to serving soldiers.

According to Mr Mead 50 British and Dutch veterans and serving personnel took part in the dig last July 2019, alongside a team of archaeologists led by Professor Tony Pollard, Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow.

“The team uncovered more than 800 finds, including items of uniform from British Guardsmen, large numbers of musket and cannon balls from the fierce fighting, and grim evidence of the work of the surgeons in the Allied Field Hospital(s), in the form of amputated limbs from the struggle to save lives,” he told the Chronicle.

Fundraising

Kate Scott also joined Mr Mead and Mr Jules on their trip to Gibraltar. She deals with the fundraising aspect of Waterloo Uncovered and also raising funds herself including this year she cycled 26 miles a day for 26 days and raised over £1,000. This formed part of the wider 2.6 challenge that came about due to the cancelation of this year’s dig due to Covid and many activities were brought online instead. The challenge had people doing something that corresponded with the number 2.6 or 26 etc

Ms Scott was on the Rock to assist with the fundraising and other aspects of the challenge as all three work together to bring the challenge into fruition.