Royal Marines complete Scottish Highlands triathlon

Royal Marines have completed a challenging triathlon through the Scottish Highlands to mark their role in 50 years of the Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD).

The team of six commandos are based at 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines; the unit trusted with the important mission of safeguarding the security of the nuclear deterrent at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde. 

The challenge – comprising of a swim, cycle and run – took the team nine hours in total to complete.

The triathlon challenge was planned as a way of highlighting 43 Commando’s role in CASD, as well as giving a nod to the Royal Marines’ historic roots in Scotland. 

The cycle took them past the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge – the poignant monument dedicated to the original Commando forces, overlooking the Achnacarry training area.

The route started in Loch Lochy, near Achnacarry – home of the Commando Basic Training Centre during World War Two.

The event was part of a week of events to mark 50 years of CASD.  Known as Operation Relentless, at least one Royal Navy ballistic submarine has been patrolling the world’s oceans, unseen and undetected since 1969. 

CASD is therefore the longest sustained military operation ever undertaken by the UK.  43 Commando FPGRM support the mission by preventing unauthorised access to the nuclear deterrent, a role which they have done since 1 May 1980, when the unit was originally known as Comacchio Company Royal Marines.

The long-distances covered during the triathlon event, marking the historic anniversary, meant an early start was needed. 

The marines therefore kicked off the 1.5-mile swim in Loch Lochy at 0600 on Wednesday 3rd July.  The bike phase then saw them cycle 80 miles from Gairlochy to Arrochar on Loch Long.

The cycle took them past the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge – the poignant monument dedicated to the original Commando forces, overlooking the Achnacarry training area.

The route then followed the A82 south through Fort William, Glencoe and along Loch Lomond, before reaching the second transition point on Loch Long.

The final phase was a nine-mile run back to the commandos’ base at HMNB Clyde in Faslane.  There, they were welcomed into the finishing stretch by their naval base colleagues when they finally reached the end-point at 1510 in the afternoon.

Inspiration for the event came from the former Commanding Officer, Colonel Tony de Reya MBE, who is a keen triathlete himself. 

The event was therefore the ideal way to link significant sites in the Royal Marines’ history to today’s base at HMNB Clyde.  All amidst the backdrop of a physical challenge, for which the Royal Marines are renowned for.

The team were awarded for their efforts at the finish line with a prize presentation before recuperating and getting back to their day jobs protecting the nuclear deterrent.