Group Captain Tim Below is working as an exchange officer with the French Air Force and has run the Paris marathon for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Tim tells us more in this blog.
I trained to become a pilot in 1986, following completion of a BSc in Engineering Science from the University of Durham. I trained on the Jet Provost at RAF Church Fenton, and gained my wings at RAF Valley.
Between flying tours I have served at the MoD and overseas, I completed the USAF School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), and I’m now a group captain. I am currently assigned to Paris as a strategist working as an exchange officer within the French Air Force. I have flown more than 4,400 flight hours on over 60 types of aircraft.
I am not a natural runner, as I prefer long-distance swimming for exercise and health. But I have long had a personal desire to run a marathon to conquer this challenge of human endurance.
While in Paris I had the opportunity to complete the necessary extensive training programme, running some 438 training miles during the six months of winter in the lead up to the marathon itself. I finally completed the Paris marathon in 3 hours 58 minutes and 53 seconds on 7 April and raised over £2,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
I have been a supporter of the charity since 1986 when I was a cadet at RAF Cranwell, and I have been constantly impressed by the fantastic support that they provide to those in the RAF family who unexpectedly need it most.
Their enduring support has been particularly evident to me following the sudden loss of several close friends in flying accidents, including the families of XV193 and the widow and daughter of a pilot for whom I was the best man at his wedding back in 1987.
As well as achieving a personal goal through running the marathon, I wanted the event to benefit others, and supporting the RAF Benevolent Fund was the best way I could think of to do that.