Inter-Service Gold and a Guinness World Record at the London Marathon

Storyline: Athletics

The Inter-Service Marathon Championships took place within the London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April, with the Royal Navy Athletics team out in full force alongside a Royal Marine facing his own battle with a fridge.

Endurance running within the Royal Navy has been steadily increasing and at the London Marathon, athletes had the opportunity to show the Royal Air Force and the Army that they are fierce competitors at the highest level.

The athletes were spread across four start zones depending on their projected finishing times with the majority split between the blue and green starts. 

The Royal Navy had twenty-two athletes at the start with twenty-one completing the route. Sixteen of those all ran under three hours with five achieving an England Athletics Championship qualifying time of sub 2:40 for next year.

In the female race, all eyes were on Lt Chelsea Baker, coming off a very convincing win at the Inter-Service Cross Country and a first-place female overall at the Marine Corp Marathon in October 2022.

Chelsea paced the race brilliantly, even manging to smile for the cameras, and took the Inter-Service crown in 2:36. With this superb time, she has now achieved the Great British Elite Women’s team qualifying time of sub 2:40. 

Second and third for the ladies saw the personal bests tumble with LCpl Eleanor Eastman finish in 3:13 and Lt Fleur Peoples in 3:17.

The men set off and quite packed together working well as a team pacing each other but it was quite evident early on that newcomer LCpl Dylan Naylor was on for something special and he did not disappoint, completing his second ever marathon in 2:27. Unfortunately due to a very strong Army team he just missed a podium place. 

Lt Cdr Phil Boak, proved that even whilst deployed onboard a ship you can still get the miles in with a bit of self-determination and romped home in a new personal best of 2:30. 

Lt’s Will Pannell and Daniel Soltys were the Royal Navy’s third and fourth points scorers completing the course in 2:35 for both.

Meanwhile, a Royal Marine smashed the Guinness World Record for running the marathon with a fridge on his back.

Corporal Sam Hammond beat the previous world record by 57 minutes; completing the London Marathon in 4 hours, 52 minutes, and 10 seconds.

Just weeks before, Corporal Sam Hammond scooped his first world record for running a half-marathon with his trusty 23kg fridge in Brighton, all in the aid of raising money for armed forces charity SSAFA. 

The 30-year-old Corporal had never run a full 26 miles with the fridge before he attempted the London Marathon and admitted, “the build-up in the last few weeks, with all that self-induced pressure, was the worst. You question your training. I just wanted to get there and get it done.”

Sam has now raised a cool £4,700 for the charity taking on challenges alongside his fridge, as well as the two world records. 

He said, “At no point did I think about ditching the fridge, just about walking the rest of the route.”

Referring to the slang term for a Royal Marine, he added: “The boot-neck in me was not going to accept walking to the end, I had to run to the finish. You need to finish on a high, don’t you?”

“I am elated to have done it. Thanks to every single person that has messaged, supported, followed me, and donated. It is hugely appreciated and I would not be here without you.”

Sam returned to work with the Royal Navy the day after the marathon and by coincidence, has just been requested to complete his mandatory Armed Forces annual fitness test. 

He passed.

The boot-neck in me was not going to accept walking to the end, I had to run to the finish. You need to finish on a high, don’t you?

Cpl Sam Hammond