Army Training Regiment takes on Doko challenge for NHS

STAFF from 1 Army Training Regiment at Pirbright have been tackling their own version of the gruelling Doko challenge to raise money for the NHS.

Concrete Hill is a steep test of a soldier’s endurance

The Doko challenge is based on the traditional Gurkha recruitment Doko race. It involves individuals running 5km carrying a Doko, a traditional woven Nepalese basket used as a backpack in Nepal.

The challenge took place within the grounds of Alexander Barracks and extended out onto the woodland training area to the rear of camp where the soldiers tackled Pirbright’s infamous Concrete Hill, carrying a Doko basket weighing in excess of 20kg.

Corporal Andrew Cartledge before receiving his finisher medal, on completion of the 5km Charity Doko Challenge

“The Doko Challenge in Nepal is hard work. I remember my selection process 13 years ago, the demands it puts on you to complete it as fast as you can in order to be selected is enormous and I compared that to the challenges the NHS have faced over the last few months in dealing with COVID-19,” said event organiser Corporal Dikendra Gurung, a Company Commander at 1 ATR.

“My thought therefore was to replicate the conditions aspiring young Gurkhas face in Nepal, while raising funds for a local NHS charity and here we are today.”

Twenty early morning risers took on the challenge. Running in teams of five in four waves, each team set off at 20 second intervals. The aim was to complete the 5km challenge within an hour with a time to beat of 46 minutes.

Corporal Lilijung Gurung forging on through the challenge

Taking part in the event was Corporal Lilijung Gurung: “This challenge has certainly reminded me of my selection race back in Nepal. It takes determination and strength to complete, this was a tough but really enjoyable one. The terrain in Nepal is a lot steeper and a constant climb, this course certainly had hills and ‘Concrete Hill’ certainly tests you but overall the incline is a lot more generous. I was glad to take part and it’s great to raise money for a worthy cause.”

Lieutenant Lemonaris, a Troop Commander at 1 ATR, added: “This was my first experience carrying a Doko basket, it was hard work but fun. It was great to experience; I appreciate the terrain was nothing like that you tackle in Nepal, but the comparison is there, and it was a fantastic idea for a worthy cause.”

Once all competitors had wearily crossed the finish line, the results showed they had all completed the challenge within 46 minutes, with the fastest time an impressive 20 minutes and 9 seconds, as well as raising £3,000 for the NHS.

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