Gallery: Colchester’s 10K challenge separates the Paras from the also-rans

Through thick mud and under a beating sun, some 800 runners took part in the PARAS 10 charity challenge in Colchester on Sunday Through thick mud and under a beating sun, some 800 runners took part in the PARAS 10 charity challenge in Colchester on Sunday

Sunday, May 18, 2014
10:28 PM

Through thick mud and machine gun fire and under a beating sun, some 800 runners took part in the PARAS’ 10 charity challenge in Colchester.

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A mix of civilians and soldiers took part in the 10-mile run, which could be completed as a cross-country race in trainers or as the P Company Challenge – wearing boots, trousers and carrying a 35lb rucksack, known as tabbing. With a target to finish within 1hr 50mins, the challenge replicates one of the key fitness tests for the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces.

The tabbers and runners were set on their way from Abbey Field by a display by the Red Devils, the freefall display team of The Parachute Regiment; and the firing of a 105mm Light Gun.

The route took them through Merville Barracks and Friday Woods over the same hills and water obstacles crossed by soldiers on training runs. Around the course, troops firing machine guns and throwing smoke grenades added to the atmosphere.

First runner across the line was Adam Lloyd, in 1 hour 4 minutes and Lance Corporal Tom Kaye, of Colchester-based 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, was the first tabber to finish in 1 hour 19 minutes.

The event, sponsored by YDS Boots, attracts a mix of military and civilian participants, with people travelling from across Europe to take part.

Juraj Vanovcan came from Slovakia to complete the tab in Second World War uniform.

The 40-year-old, who finished in a time of 2 hours 3 minutes, said: “I’m a keen runner and interested in military history, so this seemed to be the perfect event.

“I’m taking part in honour of the thousands of Czechoslovakian soldiers who fought in the Second World War, many as paratroopers, and would have trained like this. It was a very tough course with lots of hills, mud and rivers to cross but a great experience.”

Simon Dunk was one of the first civilian tabbers to finish, in a time of 1 hour 35 minutes.

The 28-year-old, from Sittingbourne in Kent, said: “I won the run last year, so thought I should give a try with boots and a backpack. It’s twice as hard doing it with all the kit but it makes it a really authentic event, particularly with the gun fire and smoke!”

Profits from entrance fees raised money for The Parachute Regiment Charity, which supports Paras and their families who are in need, but runners were free to collect sponsorship for any charity.

The PARAS’ 10 has been run at Catterick, where paratroopers train, since 2008 and runners have so far raised £1.3m for a wide range of charities.

Stephen Cooper, director of The Parachute Regiment Charity, said: “This is an authentic military challenge that allows people to challenge themselves against the rigorous fitness standards expected by Airborne Forces.

“We’re getting more and more people entering and I lay down the challenge to people to join us, either in Catterick on Sunday 31 August or next year in Colchester.”

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