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Royal Marines Running Team take on Portsmouth's Great South Run

23/11/2016

‘Calling All Heroes’ was the subject line that immediately stood out as I opened up my emails on a Monday morning. My curiosity aroused I opened it straight up and read on, ‘the SeaMore Appeal needs Royal Marines for the Great South Run’. I must admit that initially I was a bit deflated- everyone who knows me knows that I’m a marathon specialist (and dreadful cynic to boot) nobody I thought, was about to sponsor me just for doing a 10 miler! Dutifully I replied and offered to help out in anywat that I could as RM Running sports secretary. However, I needn’t have been concerned, Paul, the head of fundraising at the National Museum of the Royal Navy explained to me that what was needed was RM runners of all abilities to get out and focus their efforts on training for the race. The appeal meanwhile, would concentrate on doing the fundraising on their behalf with the race itself as the focal point. So with that going on behind the scenes I got to work recruiting and soon had a team of bootnecks chomping at the bit to get stuck in and do the Corps and the Appeal proud.

So what is the SeaMore Appeal? Many of you reading this will no doubt have visited the Royal Marines Museum at the site of the old Eastney Barracks. Whilst you may have been humbled and felt the same swelling of pride as I did walking those halls, surrounded by 352 years of history, you’d have to admit- the place could well do with a bit of modernisation! Enter the SeaMore Appeal. The project is aiming to raise £2.5 million to top up a Heritage Lottery grant of £13.85 million in order to re-locate and revamp the RM Museum. The museum will move into the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard alongside famous attractions like HMS Victory and the Mary Rose. This will allow us to proudly show off our history and accomplishments to a greater number of visitors and inspire future generations of Royal Marines.

Race weekend began for some of the team on Trafalgar Day aboard Nelson’s flagship the HMS Victory for the official race launch. Lined up alongside an assortment of legends (that’s us) were local hero Andy Vernon and multiple World and Olympic Champion Tirunesh Dibaba, we were all subjected to a barrage of interviews and chad phots before being led down the gangplank feeling slightly star-struck and given a whistle-stop tour of the Dockyard sites. Our tour ended in front of a non-descript display case in the Jutland Exhibition. After thanking us for our involvement, John Rawlinson, Director of Visitor Experience at the NMRN, stepped aside and revealed to us Major Harvey’s Victoria Cross won at the Battle of Jutland, the real deal and not the replicas that you usually see. That being quite the act to follow, the team agreed a suitable RV for race morning and bomb-burst to relax and unwind in our own ways.

A crisp and clear morning greeted us on Sunday as the team began to assemble at HMS Temeraire, before heading to the FRV in front of the D-Day Museum where the rest of the team would hopefully be meeting us. Now I wish to apologise to those members of the team who were left wandering around looking for me there as no sooner had we arrived than we were ushered off to the start line to be interviewed live on Channel 5 by the lovely Helen Skelton. After taking that opportunity to put plug the SeaMore Appeal on live national telly, remembering not to swear and throwing in a couple of chad funnies for added flavour we sidled back into the masses to await the starter’s pistol.

Capt Chris Huggett, surged into the lead from the gun evidently feeling no ill effects from his 2.49 marathon just one week prior. Mne Rich Dalton and myself were hot on his heels, having come to a gentleman’s agreement beforehand whereby, I would stick to marathon pace, or as near as damn it, and Rich would tuck in behind and go full gas with a couple of miles to go to in order to get himself a new PB (I should point out that the reason I wasn’t going flat out is that I was saving something for the Marine Corps Marathon a week later!). Somewhere in the stampede of 20,000 runners were at least 12 Royal Marines and 5 members of the museum staff comprising Team SeaMore.

The plan went off without a hitch, and at 8 miles with the iconic Yomper statue looming into view Rich took off with the wind in his back and blew straight past Chris, who was still looking very much like a man who didn’t have 26.2 miles already in his legs! Pushing it a little harder than I perhaps ought to have done I set to the task of closing the gap to Chris too, finally drawing level with just 100 metres to go and crossing the line together in 57.23, just 10 seconds behind Rich who had finished in 50th with 57.13 and obliterated his previous best by over 3 minutes (you’re welcome mate)! Not far behind this trio was Lt Col Aldeiy Alderson who narrowly missed out on breaking the hour mark yet still clocked an impressively rapid 60.38. WO1 Dave Young pipped Sgt Mal Ray on the line by a single second with 72.49 and 72.50 respectively, and Capt Richard ‘Sue’ Lawley (who covered an extra mile before the start trying to find the team who were no longer at the agreed meeting point) finished with 77.04 to his name. Apologies to the guys I know that I’ve missed from the results and write up, please do get in touch with me over Dii or via the RNRM Running page on Facebook and let me know how you got on!

Happily the SeaMore Appeal hit its fundraising target of £1,500 from the race, a good start but so much further to go. The RM Running Association and the SeaMore Appeal are already in talks about further opportunities to race and fundraise in 2017 and beyond.

Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Cpl Adam Stokes, sports secretary for Royal Marines Running on 01823 362251 or email Adam.stokes426@mod.uk, also for those of you on Facebook, check out and request to join the RNRM Running group page to keep up to dates with fixtures, results and all the goings on in Royal Navy and Royal Marines Running.

Cpl Adam Stokes