RUNNING a 10-mile race in normal running gear is tough enough for most people – but these firefighters are aiming to take the challenge to another level.
The team of red watch firefighters, from Southsea fire station, are taking part in the Bupa Great South Run this weekend in full life-saving uniform.
They will pile an extra 20kg of weight on their backs as they make their way through Portsmouth on Sunday with firefighter breathing apparatus as well as their helmets, leggings and tunics.
Southsea red watch manager Rob Dellow, 41, said: ‘I am really keen to get the race done.
‘We’ve been training for the last six months individually and as a team.
‘Now it’s all about gearing ourselves up mentally.
‘Physically we are in very good shape and luckily we’ve been able to overcome a few niggling injuries that have been picked up by some of the guys along the way.
‘Thankfully we’ll be doing it in decent running shoes.
‘Running a 10-mile race is one thing, but doing it with 20kg on your back is something else.
‘So things could get really interesting.’
The crew hope to raise more than £1,000 for Hampshire Autistic Society, which helps people suffering with the condition and their carers.
The firefighters chose the society as a way of supporting fellow red watch crew member Paul Kinneary and his autistic son Ellis, aged 13.
Rob added: ‘Paul is on leave at the moment but we thought it would be fitting to raise money from our run towards a charity which is really going to help him and his lad.
‘You can’t take your firefighter gear home so we’ve juggled between running with normal gear on in our spare time and getting on the treadmill during lunch breaks at the station with our full suits.
‘We’re also allocated two hours of physical training sessions a week, so we’ve used that to run along Southsea seafront and do up to six and seven miles at a time.’
Firefighter Dane Bowers, 33, who has been a member of red watch for the last three years, said: ‘I’m expecting it to be hard work because I’m not the fittest of people.
‘You just have to think that you’re doing this for someone else, which we all are, so all of the strain will be worth it.’
Glen Donnelly, 30, said: ‘Every year we try to do something that’s going to be a bit of a challenge and worthwhile in aid of a charity.’
To donate money towards the team’s cause visit virginmoneygiving.com/team/redwatchfirefighters