9 Region Member Does Marathon Polish Style

Story By Kiran Gharial
I first heard about this trip through the Region 9’s Facebook site in the summer and initially decided not to put myself through such a horrendous, torturous challenge that was likely to do me more harm than good. However, having read more, in detail, about the event and the other activities included throughout the 4-day trip, I began to have a change of heart and decided to get in touch with the event organizer, Mariusz (Mario) Berezoeski – via 9 London North Branch Secretary, Martyn Evans – who’s invaluable advice, in terms of hints ‘n’  tips, helped me with my 4-month preparation to be ready to participate in this Marathon.

The purpose of the event was to promote competition of uniformed services from all over Europe, as well as to offer an opportunity to members of the Prison, Army, Police and Fire services to put themselves to the test in extreme conditions.

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The participants would wear full combat gear and carry 10kg (22lb) backpacks. They would have 7 hours to complete a 26.2mile (42.6km) route, through woods and fields, in temperatures below zero degrees !!
Everyone who completed the run successfully would be rewarded with a medal, certificate and endorsed ‘Maraton Komandosa’ long-sleeved top.

On the morning of Friday 28th November, I made my way to Standstead Airport where I was met by Mario, his fiancee (Paulina) and 3 Prison Officers from Brixton Prison. We left London for Katowice, arriving in the late afternoon. A prearranged mini-bus took us to our hotel so that we could drop-off our luggage before heading to the City’s Police HeadQuarters, where we were met by two staff personnel who kindly showed us around and explained the history behind the building.

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From here, we made a short trip to Strzelnica – a shooting gallery where you could choose any weapon you like to put your shooting skills to the test on the range. I put on a brave face and elected to try my luck with ‘Glock 9mm’, a Magnum 0.357, a Pump-action shotgun and an AK47. It was an awe-inspiring experience which I thoroughly enjoyed !

From here we returned to our hotel to freshen-up before heading out to eat at a Polish restaurant, which included a selection of Polish beers to round the thirsty evening off pleasantly.

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The following day saw an early departure of 0630hours from our hotel to the venue – Lubliniec – which was about an hour’s drive from Katowice. Upon arriving, we got registered and had our rucksacks weighed-in. Last minute warm-ups completed and backpacks loaded on, I joined my 3 colleagues at the starting point. At 0915 hours, the run commenced and, with over 500 runners competing, off we headed into the woods and forests to begin our grueling mission. Temperatures were fluctuating between -1 and -5 degrees. I began jogging at a steady pace through the rough terrain completing the 1st lap in a little over 3 hours. With a short 10-15 minute rest period for toilet and refreshments, I continued with the 2nd lap. By 15 miles I was beginning to struggle as cramp was slowly creeping into my thighs. My feet and shoulders were aching and my fingers were frozen. I was alternating between jogging and brisk walking, persevering with this sequence through to the finish line in a touch over 6 1/2 hours! It was a tremendous relief and I remember my legs seizing-up due to the pain they had endured. I had struggled to walk for 3 days.

We attended the 2-hour awards ceremony before heading back to our hotel for a well-deserved dinner and drinks-up!

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The next morning, we headed to Krakow for a visit to the City’s main Prison., within which we were given a guided tour and background of the establishment. It was a real eye-opener compared to the British Prison system. Afterwards, we were given a tour of the City Center and then back to the mini-bus for our return to Katowice, where traditional dinner was served in a Polish tavern. We returned to our hotel’s bar for a late evening of socializing before calling it a night.

On the morning of 01st December, it was our last day so last-minute souvenir shopping was completed at the nearby shopping-center. Then our final trip to Silesia Airport for departure back to Stanstead.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mariusz (Mario) Berezoeski for his organization & arrangement, as well as Paulina Walasek for her encouragement & support, into making this event a successful occasion for the 4 of us that participated in this incredible adventure!
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Kiran With Oraganiser Maruisz Berezoeski
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