Dragon's dummy run on the Rock nets £3k for charity

The last sailors across the finish line were the true winners of HMS Dragon's Rock Race - having raised £3k for good causes.

Of the 105 participants, above-water warfare specialists Petty Officer Tug Wilson and Leading Seaman Cherry Blakeway were numbers 104 and 105, a good three quarters of an hour behind their fastest shipmates.

But they were also the only runners each burdened with 40kg of extra weight.

The pair chose to run the legendary race – a rite of passage for pretty much any sailor whose ship visits Gibraltar: a climb of 426 metres from the dockyard to the top of the Rock (2.7 miles/4.4km) – carrying Ruth Lee, the ship’s dummy, normally requiring rescuing after falling overboard or succumbing to fumes during firefighting exercises aboard the destroyer.

The duo are both Royal Navy Commandos, having completed the All Arms Commando Course, and have previously served with the elite 148 Battery whose ranks guide the guns of the fleet.

Though they’re used to carrying heavier loads than the dummies, they still found the Rock Race one of the more physically demanding challenges they’ve undertaken.

 

“When I got to the top I was absolutely knackered,” Tug said. “I’d had so many messages of support from people at home and Gibraltar wishing me good luck, as well as my shipmates telling me how physically demanding this challenge would be – I was pleased we had achieved what we set out to do, and for a good cause.”

His shipmate added: “Every time I turned a corner on the road and saw another uphill section they seemed to be getting steeper and steeper and I thought: surely not.

“But I kept telling myself this was only a little bit of discomfort in comparison to what some veterans have been through and it was all worth it – when we crossed the finish line together we were cheered on by our shipmates. Needless to say we had a well-deserved pint at the bottom.”

As well as raising glasses, the pair raised £3,000 for their chosen causes – one third of it donated by their shipmates.

It’s the second time Tug has completed the race weighed down by a dummy; last year he finished it on a treadmill (Covid restrictions prevented the real thing) in 1h 5m 28s.

He was inspired by the memory of his neighbour, ten-year-old Sophie Fairall who succumbed to rhabdomyosarcoma cancer – a rare form of the disease which mostly affects children – after raising more than £6,000 for charity while undergoing chemotherapy.

He chose Alice’s Arc, which researches the rare cancer and provides entertainment and support to children undergoing treatment, while in the midst of remembrance period, his running mate plumped for the Royal British Legion.

Tug raised £1,600 for Alice’s Arc, Cherry £1,400 (you can add to their totals via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tom-wilson44 and www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michael-blakeway-gibrock).

 

But I kept telling myself this was only a little bit of discomfort in comparison to what some veterans have been through and it was all worth it.

Leading Seaman Cherry Blakeway

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