Three hundred and fifty walkers and runners took part in the 15th Annual Pathfinder March, hosted by Royal Air Force (RAF) Wyton.
The Pathfinder March was set up in 1997 by Squadron Leader Gavin Sugden, with the aim of perpetuating the memory of those who operated on the 19 Pathfinder squadrons by creating a gruelling 46-mile March, around the County.
The route runs over footpaths and open country, linking the four former Pathfinder stations of RAF Wyton (Pathfinder HQ), RAF Gravely, RAF Oakington and RAF Warboys.
Wing Commander Mike Brown, Commanding Officer RAF Wyton Headquarters, addressed participants at the start line at the unearthly hour of 4am, wishing them luck and that the weather stayed in their favour.
Wing Commander Brown completed the March this year and said: “It was a great experience, but I’m not sure I’ll be repeating it anytime soon!”
Officer Cadet Paul Hutton was the first runner to cross the finish line in an incredible 6 hours 58 minutes and had the audacity to not even look tired. Paul is currently on Initial Officer Training at RAF College Cranwell and has just completed term 1 of the 30 week course. This is not the first time Paul has ran the 46 mile March, running the event the past three years whilst he was on the University of London Air Squadron (ULAS) and ran it in 8 hours 10 minutes last year. Paul was obviously pleased with his time and was off to celebrate at a friend’s engagement party, but he was unsure how long he would be able to stay awake.
Eleven cadets from ULAS also ran the Pathfinder March to raise money for the Jon Egging Trust as this is the Squadron’s chosen charity for the year. ULAS have raised an incredible £6,000 of their £10,000 target with another six months left of the year.
The Jon Egging Trust was been set up to realise his dream by Jon’s wife Dr Emma Egging, his mother Dawn Egging, childhood friend James Godley and Red Arrow’s pilot Ben Plank. The trust provides new opportunities to help disadvantaged young people achieve their full potential under an exciting and unique youth engagement program called Blue Skies.
Although the Pathfinder March is not designed as a charity fundraising event, many acquire sponsorship for a variety of good causes. Some of the other charities that people had raised mony for were; the RAF Benevolent Fund, RAF Association, Keech Hospice Care, SANDS, Alzheimer’s Society and Scotty’s Little Soldier.
The March is also used as practice for the gruelling Nijmegen March which is held on 16 Jul 13. Teams made up of military personnel also use the Pathfinder March as an opportunity to build physical robustness and team cohesiveness. Members of the United States Air Force, navy and Army from RAF Alconbury took part in this years March as well as teams from RAF Honnington and RAF Conningsby.
The Pathfinder March could not have gone ahead without the 80 plus volunteers who gave up their time. With the selfless and enthusiastic contribution made by medics, drivers, registration and checkpoint staff, a podiatrist, sports therapist and even a couple of masseurs to ease the aches and pains of the day away.
Squadron Leader Marcus Hicks, the Officer in Charge of organising the Pathfinder March said: “I came late to the table organising this, but have Flight Lieutenant Anita Prior, Flight Sergeant Julie Sanderson and Mr Chris Thurling to thank for making this years March a great success. More people are applying each year which is great to see and means the heritage of the Station as a home of the Pathfinder Squadron will continue.”
Next year’s Pathfinder March will be held on Saturday, 21 June and applications will be on line at www.pathfindermarch.co.uk from January 2014.