Rock Relay Run highlights challenges faced by veterans of conflict
In a bid to conquer both the Rock and trauma experienced in their roles within the military, a group of veterans who will take part in a Rock relay run this Friday have started to arrive in Gibraltar.
Joined by a number of civilians, the veterans will undertake a gruelling 12-hour relay to raise money for other veterans through the veteran support charity, Waterloo Uncovered.
Arriving on Monday morning was REME and Royal Signals veteran Ben Mead, who was previously stationed in Gibraltar and completed tours of the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Mr Mead, who is the leader of the event, arrived with his teammate Chris Langford, together with support crew member Jany Blatcher.
On Tuesday, Lorraine Money arrived in Gibraltar, with Luke Jules set to arrive today. Despite being locally based, one runner, Peter Bering, will not arrive back in Gibraltar from a business trip until midnight on Thursday.
The new arrivals met up with some of the local runners taking part, including Lourdians athlete Christiane Fagan, Chronicle reporter Eyleen Gomez and businessman Andy Hunter and the bonding and sharing of how daunting the task ahead is started immediately.
With one thing being clear: this was not a race, this was about an endurance run that highlights the challenges people, especially veterans, with PTSD face every day.
The Rock Relay 2022 will start on Friday, Trafalgar Day, at 6am when the first team of two runners leave the Pillar of Hercules and make their way up to O’Hara’s Battery. At the same time, two runners, who were shuttled up in a minibus courtesy of the MoD, will leave O’Hara’s Battery for the Pillars of Hercules.
For a period of 12 hours, the 10 runners in teams of two will continue this relay, completing a distance of over 2km each leg. With no flat areas, the challenge will test the runners’ calves, knees and mental stamina.
Mr Mead has estimated that each team will take 25 to 35 minutes to run up the Rock and the same for running down. It is expected that Arnold Rogers, the Gibraltar marathon record holder and Commonwealth Games competitor who serves in the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, will do this a lot faster.
There will be a checkpoint by O'Hara's Battery to signal the support teams at the top and bottom of the route to get their runners ready for the next leg of the run.
Speaking to the team, Mr Mead said: “The event is not a race but a team challenge which is an endurance run. Having completed plenty of endurance runs in the military, this is going to be a tough challenge for all those taking part, but the result will be amazing in knowing that we completed this run together.”
Mr Mead first joined the Waterloo Uncovered team in 2018 as a participant on the charity’s Excavation Programme, and has since worked his way up to become a valued staff member, serving as the charity’s Quartermaster for their annual excavations.
“The Rock Relay Run has been years in the making, and it’s finally all coming together,” he said.
“We’ve got a fantastic team representing all the Armed Forces, veterans and serving personnel, and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. There’s a big challenge ahead of us, but everyone is united in wanting to raise funds for a fantastic charity that supports veterans like us.”
All money raised from this incredible challenge will help fund Waterloo Uncovered's five unique veteran support programmes, which combine archaeology and military history with veteran care and recovery, designed to support those who have served their country when they need it the most and help veterans find peace from war.
“Gibraltar’s connection with the British Armed Forces goes back 300 years, and the Rock is an iconic part of the experience of being stationed there – climbing it is a rite of passage,” said Mark Evans, CEO of Waterloo Uncovered.
“We can’t think of a better way for veterans to give back to other veterans than by climbing the Rock to raise funds for our life-changing veteran support programmes. We’re extremely grateful to the runners and everyone who has supported the run so far. It’s going to be incredible.”
The team and support crew are asking any runners, walkers or cyclists who live locally to come along and support them throughout the day.
The Rock Relay Run is supported by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, the Gibraltar Tourism Board, the Gibraltar Chronicle, the Gibraltar Sport and Leisure Authority, AADS, the Gibraltar Tea Company, the Hunter Group and the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, with travel assistance provided by easyJet.
To support the cause, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/gibraltar