We are thrilled to announce the launch of our very own sponsored race team, made up of some of the leading athletes from across the country.
The British Military Fitness Race Team, currently made up of seven obstacle course champions, will take part in events such as marathons, triathlons, fell-running, and obstacle courses. BMF will be training and sponsoring the athletes to attend races such as the OCR World Championships, as well as our own award winning obstacle course race, the Royal British Legion Major Series, which runs in Tunbridge Wells, Warwickshire, Leeds and Stirlingshire.
The team includes David Hellard, whose race highlights include setting the course record for Man vs. Mountain, as well as running the Eliminator Marathon and the Afghan Marathon. Freya Martin is also in the team, having won the UK OCR Championships, the UK OCR league and coming seventh in the World OCR Championships.
Also in the race team is James Appleton, who came second in the UK OCR Championships and won the World OCR Team Championships. Other members include Clare Miller, Ross McDonald, Adam Teszke and Thomas Blanc, who are all highly successful racers. BMF is also seeking an extra three people to join the race team.
Meet the BMF Race Team
To many, Clare Miller will be known for her role in the BBC2 series Special Forces – Ultimate Hell Week, but over the last couple of years she has been making a big name for herself in the world of obstacle racing. She was the first ever Mudstacle (UK OCR) League Champion and has still never been beaten by any other female at an obstacle race. In fact there are very few men that have managed to beat her.
Miller was a high achiever long before the BBC series or Obstacle Course Racing. She was a competitive rower at Edinburgh University and an age group World Champion duathelete. She even cycled solo for 2,626 miles across Europe in 28 days for charity. If that doesn’t sound enough like superwoman, she’s also a qualified Haematology Doctor.
It’s unsurprising that her immense running speed and mental grit, combined with strength gained from BMF training would translate so well to OCR. Miller’s first event was Winter Nuts Challenge (four lap edition), which is widely regarded as the toughest obstacle race in the UK – it has an exceptionally low completion rate. Not only did she finish the race, she was also the fastest female, coming fourth overall.
London-born David Hellard is already a big name in the OCR scene, having won the brutal Eliminator Marathon, the Great Urban Race and the Soldiers’ Challenge. He is perhaps best known for appearing on BBC2’s Special Forces – Ultimate Hell Week.
A self-confessed late-blooming sportsman, Hellard didn’t find his running feet until his late twenties, completing his first marathon in 2009 before setting a PB of 2h44 in the Milan Marathon 2012, qualifying him for the UK Championships. He has also raced in the London marathon, being named as an official pacesetter in recent years, which he describes as one of his proudest achievements to date.
Having competed in around 20 marathons, at heart David still considers himself a distance runner. But when work offered him the chance to compete in a Tough Guy Challenge, he excelled, signalling the beginning of a journey that would take him from marathon runner to OCR champion.
As a distance runner trying to break into Obstacle Course Racing, David needed to build his strength and endurance, but didn’t like the dull, repetitive nature of the gym. So in November last year he joined BMF, building strength and endurance, as well as gaining vital expertise from our trainers.
Ross completed his first triathlon alongside his dad when he was just 12 years old and became instantly hooked. By the time he was 16 he was winning local races against adults. He was the fastest junior in the South West at 17 and then started racing in the British Elite Series. When he was 19 he ran his first UK Half Ironman, finishing a respectable 11th overall.
Obstacle Course Racing has come naturally to Ross. He enjoys competing with like-minded people, and pushing his teammates to run faster and harder. Since joining British Military Fitness he has strengthened his core and improved his upper body strength, helping him on the way to glory in both triathlons and OCR.
He has also established a reputation for competing – and often winning – on a hangover, and to this day, claims that his best performances come after 3.5 pints of lager. In October, Ross competed in the OCR World Championships in Ohio, where his upper body strength, endurance and hangover management skills were really put to the test.
Freya is the number one female Obstacle Course Racer in the UK. Along with Ross MacDonald, she also recently competed in the OCR World Championships in Ohio, taking a first ‘holiday’ since the birth of her infant daughter Hetty. She first tried OCR with her husband, and went from strength to strength, competing in the Spartan Beast, Spartan Super, Hell Down South competitions. After seriously impressing in these events, Freya was invited to join the BMF race team.
With less time on her hands than most of her BMF race team teammates, Freya has to be more targeted with her training, so she does shorter cardio sessions with HIT principles to be as efficient with her time as possible. Her usual week consists of five days in the gym where she does classes, body weights and intervals on the treadmill or track, and then at the weekend a long run or an outdoor race.
James Appleton is three-time UK champion of the Tough Guy Challenge, and a highly regarded figure in the Obstacle Course Racing scene. Last year he finished 7th in the OCR World Championships, the first time in the competition’s history that a Brit finished in the top 10.
A photographer by trade, James combines his passion for high terrain cross country with his art. His career means he has to travel a lot, scaling mountains, often with his camera in a backpack, capturing landscapes all over the world. His travelling also means that he has had the opportunity to attend far more BMF locations than most.
He recently relocated from London to Cumbria, citing his training regime as the main motivation for the move. Swapping Battersea Park for the Lake District has allowed James to regularly experience the challenges of performing at high altitudes of up to 5,000m.
One of his biggest achievements to date is capturing a live volcano with the Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights), carrying 40 kgs of camera equipment, survival gear and clothing up a steep incline. After four days alone on top of a mountain and an extremely dangerous storm, his first human contact was with James May (formerly of Top Gear) who happened to be filming on the same route.
David Hellard, an OCR champion and member of the race team, commented: “Obstacle course racing is one of the fastest growing mass participation sport in the world and we are all thrilled to be part of the new British Military Fitness Race Team. We are all highly competitive as individuals and have such a passion for racing. BMF sessions have helped us all to increase out agility and strength as the classes are so varied, with expert instructors who really know their stuff.
The team have backgrounds in endurance sports, including marathons, Ironman competitions and duathlons, but OCR requires a high level of agility and dynamic strength, which you cannot obtain from lifting weights in a gym. Therefore, BMF is a natural partner for us – many of the team have been attending BMF sessions for a number of years and it really shows in their speed over the obstacles and ability to transition quickly back into running, so the team approached BMF and asked if they could help train us all. We now train regularly across the country and it’s definitely paying dividends.”
Harry Sowerby, Managing Director of BMF, commented: “The launch of BMF’s very own race team is very exciting, we can’t wait to start working with such an inspiring group of people, who really are the champions of their sport. Obstacle course racing is becoming more and more popular across the UK and we are sure its popularity is only going to grow. The versatility of the team means that whatever your passion, you can find inspiration in this team – whether it’s obstacle course racing, triathlon or even ultra-marathons.
We are also looking for a further three members of the race team, with BMF members invited to get involved. If anyone would like to be a part of it, just ask your instructor for more details.”
For more information about British Military Fitness, please visit www.britishmilitaryfitness.com.