23 June, 2022
But after signing up, PTE van Lit from 2nd Combat Service Support Battalion in Linton Military Camp decided to take the challenge up a notch, taking part in the half marathon in 1066 era armour and doing the run for charity.
PTE van Lit smashed his goal, helping contribute to the Ukraine Orphan Fund Charity, which has raised more than $20,000 US dollars, and completing the half marathon in about three hours.
“My grandad passed away during my training and I got to thinking about what he lived through in England as a child during World War Two.
“It really motivated me to run for the Ukraine Orphan Fund Charity.”
PTE van Lit said his grandad was put into an orphanage in London during WWII, and he was often hungry, and all they got to eat was bread and butter.
He remained in the London orphanage until he was old enough to leave at age 15.
His other set of grandparents both came from the Netherlands, and he said his Oma remembers as a child their house being bombed, and his Opa saw his mother shot in front of him while their town was occupied.
“He would also have to run out to where there was fighting as a child and cut meat off the wounded horses to take home to eat.”
PTE van Lit said running for the Ukraine Orphan Fund Charity was a way he could help the war orphans today.
“One post said there was 150 orphans that came across the border that day.
I remember seeing one video of just a small boy walking across the border crying and he was all by himself and I thought man, that’s just one we know about on TV, how many of those kids are climbing over rubble to get to safety.
The decision was made to run in 1066-era armour as PTE van Lit said it fit into the overall middle earth theme.
“I can simulate being in the hasty 1066 battle march the Anglo-Saxons endured when England was invaded during the year 1066, and this will also be a great challenge no one has done before in NZ.”
PTE van Lit is no stranger to armour, already participating in full-contact medieval fighting as a combat sport.
However, he still had to put in some serious training to make sure he was prepared for the race, as well as making sure his dress was historically accurate.
“The equipment comprised of a nasal helmet, torso chainmail, leather belt x2, sword and scabbard, round shield, two-handed axe, Seax knife, leather admin pouch, sharpening stone, brooch, fire steel, flintstone, char clothes, dried food and a blanket all weighing just over 20kg.”
With his background as a full-contact medieval fighter, PTE van Lit said his body was already somewhat conditioned to this type of weight training.
“Having also been in the infantry for 11 years you learn valuable physical and mental skills on how to cover great distances.”
During his training PTE van Lit said he started running 8km in the full kit, working his way up to 14km.
To make this enjoyable I trained in five middle earth film locations and the terrain tended to be more challenging in those areas to help condition myself.
The day of the actual event he did his last gear check and was ready to go.
“The sun was very hot that day and some staff members at Hobbiton feared I may get heat stroke, but I assured them I will remain hydrated as there were water stops around the track.
“I started the first half no problems with no fatigue and drank at every water point.”
He ran 50% and walked 50% of the half marathon, which he said the terrain dictated. “When I got to the 13km mark that’s when a bit of fatigue kicked in and the mental game took over.
“I finished the course around the 3hr mark, which was what I roughly estimated, but it was hard to say as lots of people wanted to stop and take photos.”
PTE van Lit said when he got to the finish his wife and family were there to meet him.
“I felt very proud of the challenge I set myself and completed, and very proud of doing it for a good cause.”