Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa inspires team to tackle 100km charity trek
Thousands of pounds have been raised for two charities after a team of intrepid walkers tackled the Gurkha Trailwalker Challenge.
The team, which included Rene Hawkes, The Best Connections' Area Manager for Crawley, completed the gruelling 100km (62.14 mile) non-stop charity walk and have so far raised more than £4,000 for Oxfam and the Queen's Gurkha's.
The Gurkha Trailwalker originated from a training exercise to test soldiers' stamina and teamwork skills and takes place across the Sussex and Hampshire South Downs. It is the equivalent of walking two marathons, non-stop, across a route that climbs the equivalent of Ben Nevis, Mount Snowdon and Scarfell Pike.
"We aimed to complete the challenge within 25 hours. This meant walking non-stop and through the night. Was it tough? You bet. Was it worth it? Of course. Are we mad? We must've been," said Rene.
He added: "We are passionate about the fantastic work Oxfam does and the support the Queen's Gurkha's have given the British Army, and therefore us, over the past 200 years. The money will make a huge difference to many people's lives around the world."
The team opted for the name Gonna Fly Now, which was the title of the theme tune for the movie Rocky Balboa, after being inspired by the famous line from the movie: "It ain't over 'til it's over".
The rest of the team included Dan Valovin, Jo Willett, Darren Tanner, Roger Matthews, Nick Pirie and their original fundraising target was £2,000.
The distance the team walked is the equivalent of two and a half marathons back-to-back - or like walking from central London to Dover or crossing the English Channel three times.To complete Trailwalker 2015, three out of the four walkers had to complete the 100km course.
"I would like to our fantastic support team Roger Matthews and Nick Pirie," Rene continued. "Without Roger and Nick cheering us into every checkpoint, always meeting us with a cheery face, however tired they felt, and catering for our every need, we would not have stood a chance of taking part in Trailwalker.
"We truly looked forward to each and every checkpoint. We often entered a checkpoint broken and left full of energy and motivation. Roger and Nick you are legends, we can't thank you enough for all you did for us.
"We would also like to thank Oxfam, especially Mia, Louise, Matt, Eilise, Emily and all the other Oxfam organisers, The Gurkha Welfare Trust, especially Karen, Annie and all the team at the GWT, the countless volunteers, in particular Dave Morley and the legendary CP8 team, and, of course, the Gurkhas for the tremendous organisation that went into the event.
"I also have to say the weekend couldn't have been better organised, from the careful planning in advance and the raft of information we were given about the type of kit needed, what training to do as well as help and advice about the Trailwalker.
"On the weekend itself everything just clicked into place in military fashion. From the send off at Petersfield, through to the enthusiastically manned checkpoints, the best pasta meal we have ever tasted at CP7, right through the amazing finish at Brighton Racecourse.
"It was truly inspiring to walk alongside the Gurkha's - OK they ran past us - We can't imagine the time and effort that went into running such a professional, and yes, military event. Thank you.
"We also want to say a huge thank you to our sponsors. Thanks your incredible support we raised just over £5,000, including gift aid, for Oxfam and the Gurkha welfare trust.
"This is an incredible amount to raise and is over double the £2,000 we set out to achieve."
He added: "In 24 hours and 34 minutes we had taken on and become Gurkha Trailwalkers. An achievement that will be with us for life.
"Once finished it was time to let our hair down a bit an celebrate our achievement with a Gurkha curry and a special Gurkha beer called Khukuri which tasted mighty fine after 100km.
"Throughout the event our every move was being tracked by a GPS tracker and this information was being plotted onto a live map on a website called Social Hiker. We linked this to a twitter account and posted photos and updates throughout the event.
"It was amazing the level of interest we received throughout the event. Even through the night we were receiving texts, emails and tweets of support and this really helped keep our heads up when the times were tough.
"It was also great to meet, or receive messages from some of the teams we had liaised with through Facebook and Twitter over the months leading up to the event.
"There was a fantastic camaraderie between the teams, the support crews, the Gurkha's and the volunteers throughout the event, it truly was a gigantic team event."
People can still sponsor the team by visiting www.justgiving.com/gonnaflynow