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Navy divers suit up for charity run

Edward Hill/News staff (From left) Able seaman Brett McColl wearing a rebreather apparatus, leading seaman Casey Johnson in a bomb suit and leading seaman Andy O’Brien in a diving helmet, demonstrate gear navy divers will don for the Fleet Diving Unit’s second Turkey Run fundraiser for the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund.  - Edward Hill/News staff
Edward Hill/News staff (From left) Able seaman Brett McColl wearing a rebreather apparatus, leading seaman Casey Johnson in a bomb suit and leading seaman Andy O’Brien in a diving helmet, demonstrate gear navy divers will don for the Fleet Diving Unit’s second Turkey Run fundraiser for the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund.
— image credit: Edward Hill/News staff

Marathon event aims to stock Christmas hampers

The lesson from last year’s Turkey Run — don’t be the last guy, or even the second guy, to jog in a 20-pound scuba helmet. It gets sweaty, fast.

“It was horrible,” laughs Lieut. (N) Walter Dubeau. “I think this year we’re going to have extra liners.”

The curious caravan of navy bomb trucks and men running in heavy equipment is gearing up for its second outing, all in an effort to buy turkeys and other perishables for the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund.

The hastily arranged event last year had a goal of raising $6,000. About 65 navy divers from the Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific), based in Colwood, ran and loped along West Shore roads for 43 kilometres and collected $13,300 — enough to supply 688 hampers. Guys in bomb suits running away from anything attracts attention.

“It’s bloody hard, it’s a lot of extra weight to run with gear designed for the water. But it’s fun doing something different,” said Lt.-Cmdr. Bob Klein, commander of the FDU (P), who ran in a eight kilogram helmet and a 40 kg breathing apparatus. “But people were very generous last year, it was a great first attempt.”

“It really boosted morale, it was amazing, it’s hard to describe,” said Dubeau, the primary organizer of the Turkey Run. “When we got $13,000 everyone went crazy. The esprit de corps was certainly elevated by this.”

This year’s event, set for Dec. 3, is amped up with more navy divers, more volunteers and a larger public profile. Six Mile pub and Original Joe’s restaurant are raising money for the Turkey Run.

Wilson’s Transportation is supplying buses for runners, complete with washrooms.

“Some of the guys complained they needed a bathroom, especially after being stuck in a bomb suit,” Dubeau remarked.

Taking turns with colleagues, Dubeau ran in heavy gear and helped collect donations from bemused motorists and pedestrians.

“I did two kilometres in the helmet, two kilometres in a rebreather and one kilometre in a bomb suit,” Dubeau said. “But the hardest is the helmet. It’s so big on your head it bounces all over when you’re running.”

Dubeau, an annual volunteer for the West Shore Christmas hamper effort, originally organized the Turkey Run after food bundles were being cut back due to a lack of funds.

Gayle Ireland, president of the Christmas hamper society, said the Turkey Run is a big donation among many generous donations from the community.

“This is going to be an immense help,” Ireland said. “We never know how much money will come in from year to year. It really allows us to do wonderful Christmas hampers.”

This year navy divers are aiming to raise $12,000. Extra cash will go toward buying toys and Christmas gifts for hampers.

Last year’s looping route took divers through Belmont Park, Westshore Town Centre and Millstream Village, for a total of about 43 km. This year is roughly the same, although Dubeau added the Lagoon Road hill.

Divers wanted “more of a challenge,” he said.

“This year we’ll be gong down to the (Esquimalt) lagoon and up ‘heartbreak hill.’ People having their breakfast will see navy divers running by.”

The second annual navy diver Turkey Run is Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., starting from the base on Wilfert Road.

On Dec. 3, FDU diving equipment and bomb disposal gear will be on display from 11 a.m. to 2 pm. outside Original Joe’s restaurant at Westshore Town Centre. Six Mile Pub is hosting a silent auction after the run.

Navy divers will run bearing business logos for $100. Contact Dubeau at walter.dubeau@forces.gc.ca for information.

See navydiver.ca/Turkey_Run.htm or on Facebook search “FDU (P) Turkey Run.”

 

 

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