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The Damen or Ladies start not feint hearted. Inset: The BOB starts to flip on turn 11


allow novices the chance to experience the sheer terror and adrenaline rush of throwing themselves down an ice track with little more than a motor cycle helmet for protection.


The adrenaline junkies set off from Mooltan Barracks early on 4th January, Lt Koniarski breathing a sigh of relief that all had successfully negotiated Christmas leave without mishap. At 1100 hours, we arrived at the Olympic Bob Run in Iglis in Austria approximately 20km from Innsbruck. We were met by Olympic Medallists from the 2000 Winter Olympics in temperatures of -11°C and split down into disciplines. For those who had seen the film “Cool Runnings”, this was Bobsleigh and happened to be a day of firsts for Pte Thompson, A Company: first plane journey and first time driving Lt Koniarski down a Bobsleigh track.


Capt Reith yes you really are to old to be doing that


Pte Jennings of C Company chose Luge. Having been in the Battalion for 7 weeks, he went off with Capt Reith, OC LAD, to slide down a 2 km ice track on a “tea tray”. 17 year old Pte Bradley and friends chose Skeleton Bob, apparently the easiest of the three disciplines to master (however the bruises after day one told a different story). As the week progressed, the times got faster and the crashes more terrifying. By day three, the Bobbers were throwing themselves off the top of the mountain and all disciplines were waiting their turn to run alongside national teams from Russia and The Netherlands. Superior crashes of note included Pte Jennings hitting the wall at 95 kph and causing slight damage to his visage, Capt Reith coming off the Luge and causing himself significant ankle injuries and Pte Thompson repeatedly insisting on flipping the Bobsled on corner 10, much to the disappointment (and severe pain!) of Brakeman Lt Koniarski. A write up on Exercise Ice Breaker would not be complete without a mention of the Après-Bob. The Glühwein flowed freely at the end of each day’s training and helped to warm our bruised muscles and adding fuel to the ever-increasing and unlikely war stories of Ptes Edwards and Mullett and giving Pte Thompson the confidence to practice his German with the local fräuleins (with little success).


Ex Ice Breaker is run annually and offers the chance to try an adrenaline-fuelled minority sport at minimum cost. The soldiers who attended should be congratulated for displaying qualities of teamwork, courage and endurance. All who attended grew visibly in confidence throughout the week whilst working and socialising with all ranks in a Tri-Service environment. With the 3rd Battalion’s imminent move to Germany,


the exercise also served to highlight the opportunities available on our continental doorstep. Two Officers, one SNCO and eight Soldiers in Lycra in sub-zero temperatures: we certainly stood firm and struck hard down the ice. Our bodies returned bruised but our enthusiasm for the three disciplines was not. The intention now is to attend Ex Ice Breaker II and the Army Novice Championships in November 2009 with a fully-formed pan-Regimental Ice Race Team. “Nuff people say, you know they can’t believe it, 3 MERCIAN, we have a bobsleigh team”. COOL RUNNINGS!!!


Ex Manicured Eagle - 3 MERCIAN Wives’


Exercise by Liz Bourne When I heard about the wives’ exercise, I thought it sounded like it could be quite good fun. It was only after I had paid my non-refundable deposit that the injuries list on the last wives’ exercise became apparent. You know, the odd broken nose etc... Maybe it wasn’t going to be quite like a Duke of Edinburgh expedition!


It was quite a warm, humid day and running around would not have been my first choice of activity. So, even though I started off enthusiastic and full of beans (in for a penny and all that), by the time I’d put on my Bergen and was half way up that horrid never-ending hill, I’d left my sense of humour at the bottom. It was about then I realised that there was only a handful of us still with our Bergens on: how had they got theirs off?!? I had nearly dominoed the line of wives behind me trying to get my water bottle out let alone take my Bergen off. I’m pretty stubborn (ask my husband) and made it to the top of that hill on sheer pride. I was getting a bit worried that this was the start of a tortuous weekend. There were casualties already; some of the girls had been broken in by their boots instead of the other way round. Setting up camp, we grouped together to do what girls do best - chat and giggle all night. There were a few non “standard issue” bottles appearing, to aide the giggling!


Pte ‘am I still good looking’ Jennings after an encounter with a wall 82 October 2009


The next couple of days more than made up for the horrors of that hill though. We had a go at all the best bits of being on exercise… Live firing: OMG they gave me a gun! Assault course: the poor PTIs must have been knackered after getting us all over that 6ft wall and being on the ready to catch any falling wives. Warrior commanding: such a buzz - the ultimate in back seat driving, although sitting in the back did make me feel sick as a dog. Command task: hide and seek in a dark wood. Being pitch black you weren’t sure if you were sharing a hiding bush with someone else and being jiggly as I instantly needed a wee when trying to be


The Mercian Eagle


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