GALLERY: Whittlesey Royal Marine taking on epic 4,000 mile challenge in aid of wounded comrades

11:01 17 February 2014

Richard Hayden with Alfie and Holly.

Richard Hayden with Alfie and Holly.

Archant

A Royal Marine is in the early stages of a remarkable challenge which will see him ski, sail, cycle, canoe and run more than 4,100 miles.

The Royal Marines in Northern Norway.The Royal Marines in Northern Norway.

Colour Sergeant Royal Marines 40 Commando Richard Hayden, 34, of Whittlesey, is taking part in the epic Royal Marines 1664 Challenge, which commemorates the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines.

The father-of-two, who now lives in Taunton, is one of only six men who will do every leg of the herculean challenge.

Sgt Hayden and his fellow marines hope to raise £500,000 for the Royal Marines Charitable Fund Trust Fund, which supports injured marines.

He said goodbye to his wife Kirsty and two young children, six year-old Alfie and three year-old Holly, at the beginning of January and will not see them again until July 25, when the marines complete their challenge with a moonlight marathon in London.

The marines ski across Northern Norway.The marines ski across Northern Norway.

The day will be extra special because it is Sgt Hayden’s 35th birthday.

Kirsty Hayden said: “I was surprised when I found out how long he was going to be away. It will be the longest we have not seen each other in the ten years we have been together.

“But this is something he was meant to do. With his character, he could never turn it down.

“I get the occasional phone call and they are on the toughest part of the challenge but he is in good spirits.”

Sgt Hayden has been in the Royal Marines since he was 16. He has served on two tours of Iraq, four of Afghanistan and one of Yugoslavia.

The challenge started in Norway on February 4 close to the Russian border, 400km north of the Arctic Circle,

The team is skiing 1664km south to Stavanger, crossing some of the most inhospitable terrain in Europe.

Averaging a marathon a day while carrying their full survival kit, they will arrive in Stavanger on April 3.

They will then board a yacht and sail 1664 nautical miles south around Europe to Cadiz, arriving on April 30.

Swapping a yacht for bikes, they will then cycle 1664km through Spain, over the Pyrenees and up to the English Channel.

On May 21 they will board canoes and paddle for 48 hours across the channel.

Finally, on May 26, they will set off from the Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth and run 1664km around England and across Scotland. Passing though Exeter, Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Reading, they will average 18 miles per day for 58 days.

The challenge ends on the July 25 with a moonlight marathon around London finishing in time for the start of the Royal Marines parade through the city.

His father James, who is ex-forces, said: “He is super fit and does Ironman competitions but this is something else.

“But he has always been a flyer - he has been the youngest in his rank throughout his whole career.”

To donate to the Royal Marines 1664 Challenge, go to http://www.justgiving.com/RoyalMarines1664Challenge

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