The Mitchell Brothers’ London-to-Brighton Challenge

On Saturday 27th May, “The Mitchell Brothers” (aka: Wing Commander Phil Reid and Flight Lieutenant Kev Farrell) completed the gruelling London-to-Brighton 100km Challenge to raise money for Combat Stress.

Phil, a Personnel Support Officer, chose to raise money for Combat Stress after becoming closely involved with mental health issues whilst serving as OC Base Support Wing at RAF Honington. “Mental health problems are becoming more prevalent amongst serving personnel for a variety of reasons and in our veterans, we are increasingly seeing the psychological impact of recent operations leading to referrals for specialist support. Combat Stress provides veterans, who have received psychological injuries, with the specialist treatment and support they need, providing a vital lifeline for them and their families.”
What started as a drunken conversation whilst watching England at Twickenham in November 2016 quickly became a reality when Phil registered for the L2B Ultra-Marathon with Action Challenge on 1st January 2017. However, his partner in crime had no recollection of said drunken conversation at Twickenham, let alone agreeing to such folly, so Kev was rather bemused when he received an email from Action Challenge inviting him to join Phil and complete the 100km on behalf of Combat Stress.
Despite Kev’s protestations about having never even attempted a normal marathon (26.2 miles) let alone completed one, and having dodgy knees, he gave in to peer pressure and signed up to the L2B Challenge, whereupon the Mitchell Brothers were formed.

For anyone who doesn’t know the Mitchell Brothers, there are three key points to understand:

They are both bald – a significant factor, given the blazing hot weather they had to endure throughout the L2B Challenge.
They are both middle-aged Dads – at 45 and 43 respectively, their bodies hurt before they had even started the event.
Neither one of them is built for any form of endurance running – check out their Just Giving profile picture if you don’t believe them!

With Phil living in Stamford and Kev living in Medmenham, the Mitchell Brothers were not able to train together. Phil completed a lot of his long training runs around Rutland Water, whereas Kev completed his long runs along the Thames path between Marlow and Henley. Slowly, they both built up from 10km to 10 miles and beyond, with Phil completing the Boston Half-Marathon and the Burghley Rat Race (20 miles over 200 obstacles) as part of his training plan. Kev’s training was more informal and comprised circuit training, yoga and one long run every Saturday. Kev’s training finished two weeks before the Challenge with a 35-mile training run in 6.5hrs, with the last week focusing on light aerobic activity and stretching. Unfortunately, Phil’s training was hampered by the development of gall stones, which made long-distance running virtually impossible over the past month, and almost caused Phil to withdraw from the L2B Challenge.
Fortunately, Phil recovered and the Mitchell Brothers made it to the start line in Richmond Old Deer Park. Following a few words of encouragement from a Chelsea Pensioner, they set off on their 100km Ultra-Marathon (62.2 miles) at 08:30. The weather was hot and sunny, which meant that dehydration was a real issue, and so the Mitchell Brothers took the first-half of the L2B Challenge slowly to conserve their energy. Using the rest stops fully to restock their food and fluids, reapply vaseline and change clothing, they were cheered into the 56km mid-point by family and friends at 17:30. Following a well-earned one-hour rest, which included an intense five-minute leg massage, the Mitchell Brothers set off on the second leg of the L2B Challenge in good spirits.
With much of the second half of the course being across the North and South Downs, the loss of daylight made running at even a slow steady pace difficult, as the route followed a lot of uneven ground through woods and across fields. Despite the difficult route, and the physical and mental demands of the L2B Challenge, the Mitchell Brothers crossed the finishing line at Brighton Race Course in 19 hours 49 minutes and 32 seconds. The Mitchell Brothers were ranked 239 in the male category, and 303rd overall, having climbed 1,322m and raised over £1,800 for Combat Stress thus far.
The achievement was made even more remarkable by the fact that they competed the Ultra-Marathon on one of the hottest days of the year so far, with the average temperature across the route being 25ºC. Both of the Mitchell Brothers had a wibble as the physical demands of the L2B Challenge took their toll, but with the support of each other, as well as their family and friends, they made it to the finish line and survived to tell the tale.

Both Phil and Kev would like to thank everyone for their invaluable support; the money raised will allow Combat Stress to pay for 8 to 10 hours of treatment with one of their Psychiatrists or 4 to 5 days’ worth of in-house treatment for a veteran at one of their Centres. Anyone wishing to support Combat Stress can do so by making a donation via: