Two Antrim-based soldiers serving in Afghanistan are currently pedalling their way through one of their most gruelling physical tests.
Sergeants Patrick Quigley (38) from Limavady and Paul Crawford (34) from Redcar, of 38 Engineer Regiment are hoping to raise £2,000 for charity by cycling the distance from Helmand Province to Northern Ireland — on exercise bikes.
The 6,092km challenge, from the gates of the UK military headquarters at Lashkar Gah to their base at Massereene Barracks, is being carried out on exercise bikes and is expected to take 120 days to complete.
Since their deployment in March, both men have covered a distance of 2,026km and have £1,249 already in the bank. Their efforts have taken the virtual journey as far as the western side of Caspian Sea.
Sgt Crawford, who served with the bomb disposal team in Afghanistan during 2006/07 said: “Last time I was out and about on the ground. This time I'm stuck in the office.
“The day we landed, March 11, I said to Paddy ‘I know what'll keep us occupied, we'll cycle from here to Mas’. Do you know how far it is?”
Their target is to cycle a daily distance of 25km. Sgt Crawford currently holds the record with 41 minutes and 25 seconds.
Added Sgt Quigley: “I got 400m ahead of him one day and so he smashed out an extra 600m to retake the lead.”
In March two soldiers from 38 Engineer Regiment, Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were gunned down outside the gates of Massereene Army barracks as they prepared to deploy to Aghanistan. Anyone wishing to donate to the Help for Heroes Campaign should log on to wwww.justgiving.com/ paulandpaddy.