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Achnacarry Speed March 2008

45 Commando entered a team in the 2008 ABMP Commando Speed March from the Spean Bridge Railway Station to Achnacarry.  The route replicates that taken by the original Commandos who were trained at Achnacarry in the 1940s.  On arrival at the train station at Spean Bridge, they would be given 36lbs of equipment to carry and told they had 60 minutes to cover the 7 miles to Achnacarry; after this, the gates would be closed and anybody outside this time would be returned to their parent unit having failed the initial entry criterion for Commando training.

The 2008 event was held on the 8th of March, and the weather conditions provided a reminder as to why that specific area of Scotland was chosen for Commando training.  Strong winds and heavy rain (which, amazingly, subsided later) greeted the 11 runners from RM Condor when they arrived at Spean Bridge.  The main race started at 1100, after the Cadet Race had set off, which was notably completed by a team from St Dunstan’s Charity for blind ex-service personnel.  In the main race, the 45 Commando team took their place on the start line along with teams from Commando Logistics Regiment, Fleet Protection Group and several teams from Army Units.

Approximately 200 people entered this year’s event, and the pack was quickly spread by the first climb out of Spean Bridge which took participants past the imposing Commando Memorial which overlooks the valley below.  Though the route then passes some spectacular scenery, not many of the runners had the spare capacity to appreciate them, as the undulating route continued to push everyone to their limit.  Finally, just past the 6 mile point, the gates of the Achnacarry Castle are reached and it is time dig deep and push as hard as possible over the last mile of the course.

The highest placed individual in the 45 Commando team came in third place, and the team came fourth overall.  The history attached to the event struck a chord with all runners, and it was a humbling site to see some former Commandos who were part of those initially trained at Achnacarry present and walking the route.