Portsmouth reservists take on Falklands Challenge to commemorate conflict

RESERVISTS are pushing themselves to their physical limits to collectively run, row and cycle almost 8,000 miles.

By David George
Saturday, 5th June 2021, 5:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 4:10 pm

Crew from 295 Battery, Royal Artillery – based in Hilsea – are travelling the distance equivalent of Portsmouth to the Falkland Islands, in what is called the Falklands Challenge.

As a team, they are each marching, running, rowing and cycling the 7,800 miles over the course of 70 days.

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Defence correspondent for The News and army reservist, Tom Cotterill. Picture: Keith Woodland (050621-4)

Bombardier Kevin Rimmington said: ‘We started on April 3, when the Royal Navy set sail from Portsmouth – the 70 days takes us to the date the Argentine forces surrendered in Port Stanley.

‘We’ve been knocking out some big miles since we started – quite a few people have already gone more than 1,000 miles which is amazing.

‘It’s proper hard work, especially the running and marching.’

The Falklands War was a 10-week conflict between the UK and Argentina, after the latter occupied the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Gunner Lisa Hennen, left and Bombardier Kevin Rimmington set off. Picture: Keith Woodland (050621-38)

Gunner Lisa Hennen, 49 from Lee-on-the-Solent, was cycling around Hilsea when The News came to speak to reservists about the challenge.

She said: ‘We’ve all got to really push as hard as we can to get this done.

Fitness is so important in the army, so this is a great way to stay in shape.’

Members of 295 Battery setting off from the Army Reserve Centre Picture: Keith Woodland (050621-47)

The News’ defence correspondent Tom Cotterill is also one of the reservists taking part.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the only time the reservists can exercise together is when they are outdoors together.

The cameraderie between soldiers has remained to an extent, with online group chats and video calls – but their competitive nature has also come to the forefront.

Gunner Olie Cutting, 33 from Portsmouth, is keen to top the group’s Strava leaderboards.

He said: ‘We’ve all been trying to beat one another in terms of distances and time.

‘There was one time where I went out in the morning and by lunchtime someone else had run further – so I went out again in the afternoon. We each did about 300km that week.

‘At the start a load of the guys were saying I couldn’t run a marathon without training, so I went out and did it in three hours and 45 minutes just to get back at them.

‘It’s nice to do it all together today though, especially when the weather is like this.’

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