The Lancashire Army Cadet Force pulled off a remarkable victory after a gruelling 100-mile walk across the Netherlands.
Lieutenant Corporal Edward Lathorpe, from Bamber Bridge, and Lieutenant Corporal Rachel Smith, from Longridge, are both part of the 12-strong group of cadets, who took first prize and beat the Royal Marines over the four-day marathon in the process. The Lancashire group beat 240 other British teams to take the award.
The trophy is awarded for speed, discipline, appearance and morale. Assessors score each team along the route, and each of the participating teams also casts a vote.
Colonel Neil Jurd said: “The whole team including Edward and Rachel won plaudits from the judges because they remained positive despite the punishing nature of this endurance event. There were a few blisters along the way but they stayed together and kept each other going.
“It’s the first time the Lancashire ACF has taken part in the Nijmegen Marches for more than 20 years and for them to beat all the other British groups is an incredible achievement.”
Lieutenant Corporal Lathorpe and Lieutenant Corporal Smith joined their team — aged between 16 and 18, including three females — in training since Christmas for the event with leader Second Lieutenant Lennon, who in addition to being a volunteer in the Lancashire ACF is a UK Athletics Development Coach.
Second Lieutenant Lennon made sure the group were thoroughly prepared and helped them cope with the cumulative effects of the walk. The Lancashire team were judged to be the best out of 25 Army Cadet teams across the UK when they attended a selection march event in May.
The event is the largest walking event in the world and attracts more than 45,000 military and civilian participants from more than 50 nations, as well as over a million spectators, with thousands lining the route.
The route is a demanding one with early morning starts and late finishes and the temperatures hit 28 degrees on some days.
The Lancashire Army Cadet Force is looking for more recruits. It is open to young people aged 12-18 years-old. For more info call 01772 717078 or visit www.armycadets.com/county/lancashire-acf