PICTURES: Agony and ecstasy in battle to be RM's fittest
Royal Marines from across Britain assembled at the Commando Training Centre (CTC), Lympstone to compete in the "blue riband" of Corps' events.
Around 75 soldiers from various units including CTC, 30, 40, 42 Commando and the Commando Logistics Regiment went head-to-head in the Ultra-Fit Championships sweating it out to become the fittest man in the Royal Marines.
The gym-based, cross-fitness test targets every inch of the Marines' physiques and involves a sequence of 10 exercises which are completed against the clock in the fastest possible time.
First up is a 750m row, then 40 shoulder presses with 30kg, followed by 60 sit ups, 20 jumps over the box with 20kg, two kilometres on the cycle machine, 40 30kg lifts, 60 step-ups with 30kg of weight, a 60m 60kg weight carry, an 800m up-hill run on the treadmill, rounded off with 40 repetitions of a 50kg bench press.
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The men's over 40s raced first followed by the women then the under 40 men's. Then came the team events made up of the individual competitors.
"The test represents the Corp's training evolution," explained Sergeant Chris Steer, a physical training instructor (PTI) based at CTC. "It involves lots of different types of exercises starting with cardiovascular and moving on to muscular endurance, good for metabolic conditioning and taking the body through a transition of these disciplines. "In a war zone you could be doing a lot of yomping which then turns into combat, such as an attack on a building, so we have to be able to make the transition quickly," he added. "But even though this is not a functional test for operations, it involves specific aerobic and anaerobic fitness which is really important preparation.
"It's all about getting everyone involved, bringing the guys together, they learn about different exercises while they take part and then this proliferates throughout the rest of the Corps."
The event is organised by Royal Marines physical training instructors (PTIs) who are training for their second level qualification as part of their 17 week course. The event has been held the last six years but 2013 is the inaugural event of the newly formed Royal Marines Ultra-Fit Association which aims to promote and fund gym sports among the Commandos, including encouraging the taking part in civilian fixtures.
The championship is highly regarded within the Corps, which also stages annual rugby, football and power lifting tournaments, and the Poole – Lympstone run.
"It's really highly respected," added Corporal Ryan Gorman, a PTI at CTC who said he spent the last two months training for the test. "Some Royal Marines are good at battlefield combat training, this is what I love most, but being good at this doesn't mean you'll do well at this which is quite specific. You have to make sure you're good at every exercise to do well."