AN East Lancashire sailor has hit the halfway mark on his 1,000-mile run for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

Petty Officer (CIS) James ‘Dutchy’ Van-Der-Linden, of Blackburn, wanted to cover the distance while serving at sea onboard HMS Monmouth during her Gulf deployment.

And after just three months of the ship’s seven-month tour, PO Van-Der-Linden has already covered the first 500.

He is running the equivalent distance of Plymouth to Gibraltar by running around the ship’s upper deck and ashore during port visits.

One of PO Van-Der-Linden’s main challenges has been co-ordinating time to gain access to the upper deck between flying operations, boarding operations, gunnery practice serials and the unpredictable rough seas, which have been fairly unseasonal this year.

He said: “I had a dodgy knee when I got to between 200 – 300 miles. This was brought on by running on the unforgiving deck, the motion of the ship and going round the upper deck in circles, seven times for each mile.

“The knee is holding up at the moment and the running is now much more comfortable.”

As the deployment heads into the spring, PO Van-Der-Linden’s main concern will be the heat. Temperatures can be expected to hit 40 degrees in the later months, so he is in a race against time and the final few hundred miles will be particularly draining. He said: “My original challenge was to run a total of 1,000 miles within seven months, the duration of HMS Monmouth’s Gulf deployment “But after three months I have managed to hit the halfway stage. This puts me on course to finish within six months, which is now my revised goal.

After an initial sprint out of the starting blocks, PO Van-Der-Linden has settled into a steady pace and is now covering between six and seven miles a day in between his defence watch commitments, with the odd rest day here and there.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity exists to provide a better quality of life for serving and former Naval Service personnel.

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