Army medics have raced each other on the beach and through the waves to find out who is the fittest in the unit.
Friday's contest saw some 100 men and women of 16 Medical Regiment put through their paces on a four-mile run and assault course in full battle rig along the shifting sands of Mersea Island in Essex.
Physical fitness is vital to the Colchester-based unit, with the troops trained to deploy by parachute or helicopter to provide medical support to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s rapid reaction force.
Lieutenant Colonel Philip McNee, Commanding Officer of 16 Med Regt, said: “The beach run was a tough event but every member of the Regiment put in an outstanding effort, showing the strength of their spirit as much as their fitness.
“As troops within 16 Air Assault Brigade, physical fitness is one of our top priorities. On operations we’re expected to parachute or fly in to where we need to be and then be totally self-reliant, carrying all the equipment we need to both serve our role as medics and survive.”
First across the finishing line in a time of 28 minutes 47 seconds was Lance Corporal Chris McMillan, a Royal Engineers electrical engineer.
The 26-year-old from Weston-super-Mare said: “Running on sand is harder than it looks and, without being complacent, I’m very proud to have won this event. I’m a keen runner and put a lot of effort into training, both what we do as a unit and in my own time. If you’re not fit enough you can’t do the job we do, it’s as simple as that.”
Private Kimberley Preston, a combat medical technician from Stonehaven in Scotland, was the first female soldier to finish in 35 minutes 16 seconds.
The 20-year-old said: “Fitness is really important for us as a unit. We would deploy on operations alongside the Parachute Regiment and we have to match their high standards to be able to keep up with them on the ground.”
Find out more about 16 Medical Regiment
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