Alexandra's Notebook

The Day I Climbed the Runway

Well, to begin with, as it turned out, we weren’t allowed to actually use the runway in this particular event and ended up on a taxi way in front of one of the squadron who were on stand down that weekend.

What the hell am I talking about? I suppose I better start at the beginning … charity work. We weren’t forced to participate but it was, to put it mildly, expected, seen as part of our contribution to society. On each base I was stationed I always volunteered to joined in (you see a pattern here?) Why? Well, because I actually enjoyed the social aspects, never mind the rewards of taking part in some fun activities our small groups use to get involved in.

The Admin Officer tasked with taking care of us on any given base was responsible for any number of welfare tasks, one of them, to get us young ladies involved in charity work. It was something I had done as a kid, as my mother was very active in this kind of on-camp events wherever we were posted with my father. So it wasn’t too much of a stretch to continue being involved.

We would be asked to do a handful of things throughout the year to raise money for this or that charity or event on camp or locally. This particular year, while based in Germany, our office gathered together a few of us to brain storm events to hold on the camp open day to raise money for a local children’s hospital. At first we came up with the usual boring stuff. But then, some bright spark put forth the idea of doing an obstacle race, which got us all excited.

It was during the discussion on how we would organise this event, and then, exactly where it could take place, that our Admin Corporal said, why not on the runway? Which is when I quipped, “Oh, like doing an ascent of the runway?” An idea we ran with till that is, the Group Captain reminded us we were a front line base and that part of the runway could not be cordoned off to accommodate an obstacle course. But then, coming up with a solution, arranged for us to do it on the taxi way in front of one of the squadrons.

And so, the stage, eh, as it were was set. All these talks had started somewhere around mid March with a view to this being an event at our Summer open day, on camp, in the middle of July. So we had plenty of time and man-power to get it organised. And while we had ambitiously hoped to have a course that was going to be about a hundred yards long, this was shortened to about half that.

All in all, this was one of the most fun projects I ever worked on and yes, before you ask, I was one of the participants. Of course I was. And regardless of whether I came first, or last, which me and my partner did, it was the most tiring fun I ever had.

Imagine several teams dressed as mountaineers, complete with big boots, knapsacks and climbing rope, scrambling on our hands and knees through assorted cargo netting, traps, large rubber tires and cleverly designed obstacles, to make it to the end, and you get an idea of just how exhausted we all were when we crawled across the finish line.

The beers afterwards were much deserved let me tell you.