Royal Engineer Officer to run London Marathon in full body armour in aid of Combat Stress

After chairing Defence IQ’s International Military Engineering conference last week, Lt Col. Alan Jarvis is not sitting back and relaxing…he’s back in preparation for a grueling 26 mile run in full body armour! Lt Col. Alan Jarvis of the Royal Engineers has set himself the challenge of running through the streets of London in the Army’s body armour in an effort to raise awareness and money for Combat Stress, the UK’s leading veteran’s mental health charity.

Despite some challenging set backs, Al is determined to make the finish line of the London Marathon on April 24th. Given the growing awareness around PTSD and the large numbers of serving and retired soldiers facing the condition after extended engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defence IQ had a quick catch up with Al to find out why he’s running (and how you can sponsor him!)…

Defence IQ: What inspired you to run for Combat Stress?

AJ: As a Royal Engineer Staff Officer I am responsible for bringing new engineer capability into Defence. Some of my soldiers from two operations in Afghanistan have had to deal with the stress caused by operations and I think it’s an issue that is going to grow over the next few years based on how many soldiers have been on operations over the last 10 years and how long it currently takes for them to ask for help – 14 years on average!

Defence IQ: PTSD is something that the public has been made increasingly aware of, is it true that despite this awareness there’s still a lack of understanding around PTSD in veterans? How is Combat Stress helping to spread that message?

AJ:Yes there is a lack of understanding, however PTSD is a natural human response to unnatural experiences. You wish it was you instead of your mate, you wish you didn’t go that way along the track, you wish it hadn’t happened and you ask was it worth it? Combat Stress provides a life line for veterans who need help getting balance back to their lives mainly by proving unique counseling.

Defence IQ: We understand you intend not only to run the marathon but to run it in full body armour - have you ever done something similar? How are you training?

AJ: I know it’s slightly bonkers, but I have completed it twice before in Afghanistan, at least it won’t be so hot! However age, together with a parachuting injury when I broke my back, hips and heels, is taking its toll. The training is not going too well; a leg muscle and a minor foot operation are preventing running at the moment but I’m on the bike!! I just hope I can make it to the start line at the moment then I’m using the old tactic of start slow and hang on!!

It sounds tough, but it’s obvious that Al’s used to a challenge. We wish him the best of luck in raising money for the valuable cause and raising awareness for Combat Stress. If you’d like to support Al and help raise money for the charity please go to his sponsorship page here: