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Army November 10, 2011
ASEEMINGLY harmless chat
in the officer's mess one
morning was the unlikely
birth of a zany idea to run the
Melbourne Marathon in the same com-
bat gear troops currently wear on the
As an initiative of Capt Nigel Booker,
Diggerworks, the project was overseen by
Col Jason Blain with Capt Booker manag-
ing the day-to-day running of the team,
consisting of Brig Nagy Sorial, Col Haydn
Kohl, Capt Dave Barton, Capt Alex Smith,
Capt Jason Morrison and WO2 Fiona Ince.
Capt Booker ran with the idea, pitch-
ing it to the highest levels, and ended up
with a small team determined to show
that Land Systems Division (LSD) stood
behind all the kit supplied to troops.
In the beginning everyone thought he
"After explaining the concept, every-
one agreed it was a fantastic idea," Capt
"The team was very keen to prove its
confidence in the gear that LSD provides
to our soldiers to wear on the frontline in
The initial idea was to compete in
full combat gear, but after discussing it
with local authorities and the Melbourne
Marathon organisers, it was decided not to
carry weapons or wear helmets.
The team wore the current-issue Tiered
Body Armour System Tier 2 (TBAS 2)
with soft armour inserts and ballistic
plates with magazines and utility pouches,
a three-litre water bladder, DPCU trousers
and under-armour shirt, and version five of
the standard Army-issue combat boots.
Capt Booker said he wanted to show
Melbourne and Australia what our troops
were wearing every day in Afghanistan
and highlight the quality of the equipment.
"Running 42km in it is one thing, but
our diggers wear this day in and day out
for their entire operational tour," Capt
"Other runners and the many specta-
tors were interested in seeing just how
much the equipment actually weighed and
how comfortable it was when worn during
Team members trained for the event by
wearing the body armour and boots while
going about their daily business to condi-
tion their bodies.
At the same time, DSTO was conduct-
ing weight performance trials for the new
Physical Employment Standards and sev-
eral members of the team found them-
selves volunteered, hooked up and on the
treadmill with various weights attached.
Team member WO2 Fiona Ince said
her preparation focus was on endurance
training at comfortable speeds.
"I had been training in the kit before
the marathon and I think this helped a lot,"
WO2 Ince said.
"My body quickly adapted to carrying
the additional weight of the equipment."
Another significant goal of the team
was to support a charity that in turn sup-
ported Australian troops wounded in
action in operational theatres.
Operation Care, which provides rest
and recuperation to ADF members and
their immediate families, was chosen to
benefit from their fundraising and more
than $6500 has been raised to date.
Capt Booker said he was keen to get
fundraising support to help wounded
"I got up at the mess one day and told
everyone that we command and lead our
soldiers on and off the battlefield, so we
should now lead by example and donate
towards them," Capt Booker said.
"The officer's mess immediately voted
to donate $1500 towards it."
The team completed the 42.195km run
in a comfortable 5hr 33min, which gave
them time to talk to other runners and
interact with spectators.
Donations to Operation Care can still be made at
any Defcredit branch or online by funds transfer to
BSB: 803-205, account number: 20328715.
Faith in new kit tested
If running a marathon doesn't seem tough enough, try doing it in patrol order. Spr Nick Wiseman tries to keep pace
with DMO's kit specialists who put their bodies on the line to prove the new combat equipment.
Kitted up: The DMO marathon runners from left, WO2 Fiona Ince, Brig Nagy Sorial, Capt Nigel Booker
and Capt Jason Morrison get ready to start the Melbourne Marathon in patrol order. Photo by Sgt Dave Grant
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