The idea was simple: flip a 275lb tractor tyre eight miles around RAF Northolt airfield within six hours, with an aim to raise £1,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
As a committee, members of RAF Northolt CrossFit Hawker Hurricane brainstormed ideas on a challenge event that would stretch their physical ability, whilst also being unique enough to raise funds for the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity. With an array of ideas on the table, the team decided upon the Tyre Flip, rotating teams of four every 30 minutes throughout the day until the eight miles was reached or until the time ran out.
Fundraising began online before the team took advantage of the crowds at Canary Wharf Shopping Centre and London Bridge Station, where the public were extremely generous with their donations.
As well as the monetary kindness, the committee also captured the imaginations of a number of corporate supporters, with kit arriving from Reebok, RockTape and Cherry Active to help with the event.
"The day came and after everyone’s preparation, planning and practice sessions we knew we were up to the task," said the Project Officer for the event, Flying Officer Alex Long, OC A Flight of the Queen's Colour Squadron, who are based at RAF Northolt.
The route took the team around the entire airfield, with the first team of four leaving the RAF Northolt gym at 0900. There was a tremendous send off from the Station Commander, CrossFit Hawker Hurricane Club members, representatives from the RAF Benevolent Fund and a fanfare from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.
With the morning underway, each team of four progressed over a kilometre each, bringing the target of eight miles in six hours within reach. The biggest test came when the teams had to decide how best to spend their time between 'shifts', which was up to a three-hour break. Some opted for showers and calories; others were content with just a sit-down and a brew, not wanting their second shift to begin on a full stomach.
Arms, legs and back stiffness were all creeping in. Although the kind donations of Cherry Active and RockTape helped, fatigue from the morning was clearly visible and forced a change of tactics.
The team abandoned the strategy of individually flipping the tyre, and opted to work in pairs, flipping three or even four times before rotating. This proved faster, and with continuous motivation and encouragement from each other and the support staff they were ahead of time even with the delays of the busy airfield.
With the day coming to an end, and in a last bid to reach the eight-mile mark, all 25 members made a long line and in pairs gave it one last effort to gain as much distance as possible. The six-hour time limit reached, the team waited in anticipation to hear the final distance.
"Even with airfield delays we had achieved our goal and reached 8.4 miles whilst raising over £3600 for the RAF Benevolent Fund," said Flying Officer Long.
He added: "The day was fantastic and RAF Northolt CrossFit Hawker Hurricane would like to thank everyone who participated, supported and donated to such a successful event, as well as the RAF Police and Air Traffic Control. Job well done lads."