Permanent staff from 1 Army Training Regiment at Pirbright (ATR (P)), one of three Phase One training establishments in the UK, have been hosting and tackling their very own Doko challenge.

The Doko challenge is based on the traditional Gurkha recruitment Doko race. The challenge involves individuals running 5km carrying a Doko basket, which is a traditional woven Nepalese basket weighing either 5kg, 10kg or 15kg. The basket is used as a Bergen (backpack) in Nepal.

The challenge took place on Thursday 23rd July within the grounds of Alexander Barracks and extended out onto the woodland training area to the rear of camp where the soldiers tackled Pirbright’s infamous ‘Concrete Hill’. With the weather fine and dry it was a perfect setting for this test of grit and perseverance.

20 early morning risers took on the challenge carrying a Doko basket weighing in excess of 20kg. Running in teams of 5 in 4 waves, each team set off at 20 second intervals. The aim was to complete the 5km challenge within an hour with a time to beat of 46 minutes.

Taking part in the event was Corporal Lilijung Gurung, when asked how he felt the experience had gone he said, “This challenge has certainly reminded me of my selection race back in Nepal. It takes determination and strength to complete, this was a tough but really enjoyable one. The terrain in Nepal is a lot steeper and a constant climb, this course certainly had hills and ‘Concrete Hill’ certainly tests you but overall the incline is a lot more generous. I was glad to take part and it’s great to raise money for a worthy cause.”

The initiative and event organiser Corporal Dikendra Gurung, a Company Commander at 1 ATR, spoke about why he organised the event and what it meant to him. He said, “The Doko Challenge in Nepal is hard work, I remember my selection process 13 years ago, the demands it puts on you to complete it as fast as you can in order to be selected is enormous and I compared that to the challenges the NHS have faced over the last few months in dealing with COVID-19. My thought therefore was to replicate the conditions aspiring young Gurkhas face in Nepal, whilst raising funds for a local NHS Charity and here we are today.”

Lieutenant Lemonaris, a Troop Commander at 1 ATR and Doko Challenge participant also shared his experience, having successfully completed the course. He added, “This was my first experience carrying a Doko basket, it was hard work but fun. It was great to experience; I appreciate the terrain was nothing like that you tackle in Nepal, but the comparison is there, and it was a fantastic idea for a worthy cause.”

Once all competitors had successfully but wearily crossed the finish line, the results could be announced and everyone was thrilled to learn that all competitors had smashed the target of an hour, not only that but all had completed it within 46 minutes with the fastest time of 20 minutes and 9 seconds. In addition, the Permanent staff also managed to raise a healthy £3,000 for the NHS charity, a fantastic achievement all round