A British veteran is to spend his birthday running an ultra-marathon across Tanzania to raise funds to help fellow veterans tackle the “petrifying” obstacle of reintegrating into civilian life.
Tricia Sinclair, who lives in Twickenham, London, is participating in Ultra X Tanzania, a multi-stage ultra-marathon, which traverses Mount Kilimanjaro and takes place across five days starting from Monday – the date of her 37th birthday.
Ms Sinclair served in the army for 14 years between 2008 and 2022 and did five operational tours, describing the experience as “both challenging and exhilarating” and one she will “always be grateful for”.
She now works as the director of fitness for charity REORG, which helps rehabilitate veterans, military and emergency services personnel through functional fitness and jiu-jitsu, and feels that the timing of the mammoth event was perfect as it coincided with the launch of some of the charity’s new programs.
She hopes to raise £30,000 from the ultra-marathon to allow 100 veterans and military and emergency services personnel to go through the charity’s 60 fitness program – which uses cross-fit to improve health and wellbeing.
Ms Sinclair has also cited REORG as playing a fundamental role in helping her adjust to life post-service.
“The idea of leaving the service is massive, it’s so daunting, it’s petrifying because the idea of transferable skills and surviving in the civilian world is massive,” she told the PA news agency.
“My transition has been made so much easier because first of all, REORG offered me a job as a full-time member of staff, which has been amazing because it is surrounded around fitness, which I am massively passionate about and it’s supporting people that I’ve been working with for the past 14 years.
“(And) I thought, what better way to spend (my birthday) than lots of hours on my feet, running around Tanzania with lots to see and experience?”
Ms Sinclair is to run 250km across the challenge, with the veteran saying that days three and four are “probably going to be the most challenging”, with day three being the day the runners make a 3,700m traverse up Kilimanjaro.
“Day four is all in the mountains,” she added.
“It will be super hilly – lots of incline and decline, which as you can imagine, puts a lot of pressure on the joints.”
She is expected to catch glimpses of sugar plantations, Namalok Nature Reserve and the Blue Mountains on the route.
She said the training had been “interesting”, especially since Twickenham and the surrounding areas did not have “a great amount of hills and nothing on the scale of Kilimanjaro”.
However, she has been following a training program with the help of running coach Leon Bustin, who has experience in Ultra X races.
“I basically have to run really, really slow and to start with, I was basically almost walking to keep my heart rate low enough,” she said.
“I need to follow the concept that you need to run slower to run faster, which takes me a really long time to get my head around.”
The keen cross-fitter has also incorporated this activity into her training, learn about how to properly fuel her body for the Tanzanian trip and also listen to many podcasts from ultra-marathon runners.
While running in Tanzania, Ms Sinclair will use a GoPro to “capture the bits where I’m absolutely hanging out, the bits where I’m really struggling and digging really deep”.
“Obviously, I want to enjoy the experience and I’m looking forward to seeing how I react and how my body reacts, but I’m going to be completely honest about the whole process for me and the journey,” she added.
“If there’s points where I’m crying because I don’t want to take another step, that’s what I’d be keen to capture.”
She added that she may even cry a few happy tears as her dad is flying out to meet her at the finish line.
“I just know the moment I saw him that I’ll just probably burst into tears.”
Ms Sinclair also hopes to inspire others to go out of their comfort zone through seeking solace in the fact that she has “never run anything over a marathon before”.
“I did my first ever marathon back in 2010 in Afghanistan,” she said.
“I’m just a normal person and I wouldn’t even count myself as a natural runner – I have to work really hard at it.
“I want to inspire others to really challenge their mental resilience – it might look like going to the gym for the first time ever or even going for a walk.”
Pascale Harvie, president and general manager at JustGiving, added: “Tricia is incredible.
“This is one of the most difficult and testing challenges a person can take on and her strength and determination to ensure that veterans, military and emergency services personnel get the support they need is truly inspiring.”
Ms Sinclair’s JustGiving page can be found here: www.justgiving.com/page/patricia-sinclair-1683631836730