A SOLDIER who has just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan is preparing for a different kind of challenge.
Platoon Sgt Spencer John Davies will run around the Stray for 24 hours non-stop, supporting four different charities.
Dressed in full army attire complete with a 15kg backpack, Sgt Davies, or “Taff”, of Harrogate Army Foundation College will start from Tewit Well on the afternoon of Friday, June 22, and hopes to run and speed march a 3.2k circuit of the stray until 2pm the following day.
Of his daunting challenge, amounting to roughly five consecutive marathons, Sgt Davies said his main concern was the early hours of Saturday morning, when his body will be feeling the strain.
“It certainly won’t be my mind that quits,” he said.
“When my muscles are in a constant state of spasm and my feet are blistering, it will be tough – but I can’t quit. There’s no such word – my body will have to give up before my mind does.”
Fortunately, Taff will not be alone. Dedicated friends and family have committed to camping out on the stray for the duration of the 24-hour challenge, taking turns in supporting him. Members of the public are also welcome to join in for a circuit or two, should they feel able.
As well as Help for Heroes, Sgt Davies will be supporting Cancer Research UK, the NSPCC and Diabetes UK. He has a personal interest in each charity; from friends and family being affected by diabetes and cancer, to his own experiences serving overseas where he witnessed the devastating effects that conflict can have on civilian and military personnel.
He said: “They always say charity begins at home – and don’t get me wrong – I support international charities whole-heartedly, but I just feel the charities here in the UK need some more support, and this is my way of showing it.
“I first had the idea of doing something for charity whilst on a tour of Iraq. We were serving over the Christmas break, and one of the guys suggested we do something a little crazy on Christmas Day to distance our minds from home and family.
“We found an old bike, and I decided I would try and ride it for 24 hours to raise money for charity. It turned out really well, and we raised nearly £4,000 for the NSPCC.”
Since returning from a six-month tour of Afghanistan, Taff now works at the Army Foundation College, and lives in Harrogate with his wife. Originally from Swansea, he has embraced North Yorkshire as his new home, and confesses to being in love with the region, claiming to be one half Welshman and one half Yorkshireman.
As his training amps up over the coming weeks, so does Taff’s dedication - devoting every opportunity to preparation. Even lunch breaks at the College have been sacrificed for distance runs with weights, gym work and speed walking over harsh terrain.
The 24 Hour Challenge starts at 2pm on Friday June 22nd. You can follow Sgt Davies’s progress online, through both his website and Facebook page. To show your support to the 24 Hour Challenge, donate online by visiting www.taffs24hourchallenge.com.