Trio of pilots take off on gruelling marathon effort

Witney Gazette: Left to right, flight lieutenants Tom Mountney, Rob Platt and Graeme Hunt Left to right, flight lieutenants Tom Mountney, Rob Platt and Graeme Hunt

FOR three RAF flight lieutenants running the equivalent of 17 marathons in 17 days, each one of the 448 miles they run will be poignant reminder of loss.

For each mile marks each soldier killed in Afghanistan since British forces were deployed in 2001, and where all three pilots have served.

Flight lieutenants Rob Platt, 37, Tom Mountney, 31, and Graeme Hunt, 38 set off from RAF Brize Norton, where they are stationed, on Monday for the 32.5-mile run to Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire.

The Hercules pilots will run for charities including Help for Heroes, Combat Stress and the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation.

Flt Lt Platt said he came up with the idea after transporting war casualties in Afghanistan.

He said: “It was potentially my last deployment in Afghanistan and I thought it would be quite poignant to commemmorate all the guys who haven’t come home.

“We’ve all gone out there three or four times a year, but obviously there’s quite a few who haven’t come home.

The group are also planning to run an extra mile in memory of Drummer Lee Rigby, who was murdered in Woolwich last May.

The three will mostly stay at military bases and visit places including Yeovilton, Poole, Stonehenge and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and RAF Benson before returning to Brize Norton on Wednesday April 30.

Flt Lt Platt, said: “We’ve had a good start without any injuries. We just need to keep hydrated and well nourished.

“I honestly can’t compare it to anything I’ve ever done before, including training.”

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