A team of London-based friends take on a gruelling Exmoor race later this month to help ex-service men and women of the military and emergency services…

Soldier 30:30 sees team racing 30 miles or 30 km carrying a 30lb pack to raise money for FirstLight Trust. The charity runs support hubs across the country to help veterans struggling with issues such as debt, homelessness, loneliness and red tape.

“Jimmy and I were in the army together and have fond, well fond-ish, memories of long marches and cross-country runs at Sandhurst and in Germany,” explains team leader Ollie Leeming. “Pepe is a mountaineer and all-round athlete. Jose, who served in the Royal Guard plus Spain’s special forces, has run many marathons. So we’re confident we can succeed in the 30 mile run.”

Their team name Stand218 comes from “stand-to”, a formation carried out at first and last light. This defensive all-round group stance allows soldiers to be ready for battle with mutually supporting arcs of fire. So far the team have mainly been training individually.

They have however covered 22km together in Richmond Park complete with “a very civilized coffee stop” and 47km in Exmoor. The next step is training to run at speed and carrying the weight of 27 basketballs while doing so.

“The bonds and memories you make in the military are like no other. Although we have become civilians these bonds don’t diminish,” says Ollie. “We’ve taken on Soldier 30:30 as we feel that ex-military and emergency services people can be some of the most vulnerable in society.

The mental health challenges they face are compounded by the sense of isolation felt when leaving the services. We’re excited to be able to help by racing in good company in a beautiful part of the world.”

Soldier 30:30 begins on 13 October. Donations to Team Stand218 can be made here.