The Royal Marines Commando Challenge is one of the highlights of the Devon Air Ambulance calendar. The highly popular annual event sees hundreds of intrepid fundraisers taking on either the 5k or the 10k run through 8 notoriously challenging obstacles.

The Commando Challenge is an opportunity for the untrained to tackle the elite Royal Marines’ own endurance training course while raising money for both the Royal Marines Charity and for Devon Air Ambulance.

Entrants will take on the tough test of endurance that’s famous for the rough Woodbury moorland, dark tunnels, muddy pipes and pools, and a muddy underwater culvert. The course includes such adrenaline-inducing obstacles as the ‘Smartie Tube' and the ‘Sheep Dip’.

We spoke to Beth Spence, HR Coordinator at Devon Air Ambulance, who has 15 similar challenges under her belt, and has brought together a team for this October's weekend of muddy fun.

What inspired you to sign up?

Devon Air Ambulances HR advisor, Beth pictured before and after her intensive involvement in fundraising eventsBeth, who joined Devon Air Ambulance last year, was keen to get fit and discovered an untapped enthusiasm for challenging physical feats and soon pursued a sequence of gruelling fundraisers, which generally involved a great deal of mud.

A few years ago I was desperately trying to get into fitness, but I struggled to find anything I enjoyed doing. A friend suggested I sign up to an obstacle style race and once I’d paid I felt motivated to train… one event turned into 15 and I lost 7 stone in 10 months!

The regular training required to tackle a procession of activities, which are by no means a walk in the park (not least because they involve running across terrain that is far from cultivated parkland) is itself a big commitment. 

How is training going?

HR Advisor for Devon Air Ambulance, Beth, undertaking a gruelling Mud Run challengeBeth is now preparing for this year's Royal Marines Commando Challenge and has brought together a team of similarly intrepid civilians from the Devon Air Ambulance, who are tempted to test themselves against the rigours of the 10k course.

I go to HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) every Tuesday, which is fab for Cardio. I also attend the gym whenever I can and I go running (when the weather allows!). I’m looking forward to just enjoying it this year though, not necessarily doing it to get the best time.

For those thinking of enlisting in this October's challenge, you can read lots of helpful preparation advice available here, or visit the training blogs by former Marine, Jason Hodge, on the Commando page.

What advice do you have for those who have enlisted or are enlisting this year?

HR Advisor for Devon Air Ambulance, Beth,enjoying herself in a watery mud run challengeWith many similar activities behind her, Beth is well-placed to offer some sage words to those who have enlisted for this particular challenge for the first time.

This event is supposed to be fun! Obviously you will want to do your best, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself: have fun, get muddy and then have the most well-deserved burger of your life afterwards! 

Wise words - and it is fun! No matter how gruelling the obstacles, or how muddy they are, each year participants tell us how much they enjoyed themselves, with many vowing to return for future events.

I'm ready! How do I sign up?

The Royal Marines Commando Challenge takes place on the weekend of 13th and 14th October this year and will be supported by the popular Events Village again. The Village hosts an array of attractions and activities including the much-loved dog show, which is a welcome fluffy addition to the end of the gritty endurance experience.

The 2018 event raised over £67,000 as a whole in sponsorship - a significant increase on the previous year - and involved over 1,000 fearless fundraisers whose courage, determination and cheerfulness helped them tackle the world-famous commando tests.

Those who are ready to get their hands - and everything else - dirty by taking on the famously challenging obstacle course can enlist by visiting the Commando Challenge Website.

Enlist today!