Two high ranking British Army officers have been swimming, cycling and running shoulder to shoulder with top athletes from across the world, taking part in a gruelling Ironman competition, the first in Tallinn, Estonia, on Saturday 4th August 2018.
Major General Ivan Jones, Director Personnel, and Brigadier John Mead, Head of Directorate Personnel, have been leading by example in the fitness stakes, competing against more than 1400 other competitors from 50 countries, and finishing 9th (10hrs 6mins) and 4th (9hrs 39mins) in their respective age groups.
General Jones and Brigadier Mead are both veterans of triathlon, having raced for the Army for ten and 20 years respectively, proving that regardless of age or rank, healthy competition is good for you.
The Ironman is seen as the ultimate test of fitness and involves a 2.5-mile swim, in this case in the chilly Baltic Sea, a 112-mile cycle leg and finally a 26-mile marathon, during which competitors endured a thunderstorm and torrential rain to complete the challenge.
Ironman competitions are held all over the world and that’s part of their appeal; the opportunity to travel widely to compete. Ironman Tallinn was bound to be a draw for the pair because it is where the British Army is currently based on Operation CABRIT, as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP), working alongside Danish, French and Estonian forces.
General Jones, 51, said: “Racing the inaugural Ironman Estonia was an obvious choice given our strong links with the country and the current military presence in Tapa.
“It was a great event superbly organised and the crowds and volunteers were brilliant. We hope to return next year with a larger group, perhaps competing alongside the Estonia military.”
Both men, who have devoted their careers to serving in the British Army, have a number of Ironman competitions to their name. General Jones has completed three and Brigadier Mead an inspirational nine.
Triathlon is a sport the British Army excels in. Brigadier Mead
Brigadier Mead, 46, said: “Triathlon is a sport the British Army excels in. The Army Triathlon Association (ATA) is a club I’ve been proud to be associated with for twenty years - brilliant people, inclusive atmosphere and welcoming to all - regardless of level or goal.”
Sport and fitness are vital components of soldiering; keeping troops motivated and combat ready at all times. The opportunity for soldiers to fulfil their potential in a sport and compete on the world stage is high for all ranks of the British Army, with soldiers and officers regularly competing in international and world competitions, and even the Olympics.