In April 2020 I deployed to Afghanistan, to an altitude of 6000 feet. Conditions were warm and dusty, not really ideal for running, let alone running in a Stormtrooper costume. Over the following few months it would become scorching hot but I still had more miles to run in the costume. Could it be done?
As explained in previous blogs, I had every intention of running on a treadmill in an air conditioned gym for the entire deployment, however Covid-19 mitigation measures had dashed all of this plans, as the indoor gyms were all closed! This was one of several reasons why unfortunately I didn’t hit my April target of 76.2 miles. 2020 - Missing the Target!
You may have read that in May I pulled it out of the bag and caught up with the April deficit, I was back on track. 2020 - May the Force Be With You
That said, it would get mega warm in June and July and I had a lot more running to do.
My formula was night time running and I had some expert help to assist me with selecting what nights to run. I couldn’t get out there every night as some days were really hot, however we deployed with a meteorological forecaster to give us weather information. Every morning i’d ask her what the evening temperatures were forecast to be and plan my weekly spare time around the predictions.
You can see from the following photos that almost everything was done at night time.
There was one occasion when I ran during the day but just for 5 miles as it was so hot!
One event which still makes me smile is when I literally stopped a Boeing 747 cargo aircraft whilst it was taxiing. The main base in Kabul is also the Kabul International Airport. I was running around my usual loop on my little camp which falls within the main base when an aircraft was moving along the taxiway. When it spotted me running nearby it ground to a halt and I saw the pilot in the cockpit give me a wave.
On one occasion I organised a fun event called ‘Park Gun’, my own spin on ParkRun. I asked several of the people I was deployed with to join me for a 5km run as part of the virtual medal series. Those who took part earned their 5km flashing LED #stayontarget Stormtrooper medal.
In total I managed to run 284 miles in Afghanistan, over a quarter of my 1000 miles in 2020 challenge. Happy with that!
At the end of this short deployment (shorter than my 7 month deployment in 2018/2019) I flew home to the UK with 23 miles left to complete of my July target (100 miles). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to leave the house due to the mandatory 2 week isolation, however I still had the amazing treadmill which had been loaned to me by Hammer Fitness and Swag Distribution so I had a couple of days of treadmill running and I was done! I was still on target!