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RBL Dave, 72, takes on commando challenge

11:00 31 August 2014

Dave O'Connor will be taking on the Royal Marines Commando challenge in September. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 4518-35-14TI To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on myphotos24

Dave O'Connor will be taking on the Royal Marines Commando challenge in September. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 4518-35-14TI To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on myphotos24


A 72-year-old Sidmouth veteran will be put through his paces when he takes on the gruelling 10km Royal Marines Commando Challenge next month.

The town’s Royal British Legion branch chairman Dave O’Connor is reliving his army days breaking in recruits on Woodbury Common - saying ‘it’s now or never’.

People come from across the country to take on the course, and after an energy-sapping run along stony trails, they will be wading through streams and swimming blind through muddy tunnels.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never got round to,” said the pensioner.

“I’m in my 73rd year – if I don’t do it now I never will.”

He is training with twice-daily runs around Sidmouth with his 16-year-old grandson, Josh, as they work up to the full 10km.

Dave served with the 4th Battalion Devon and Dorsets so is no stranger to the terrain and its challenges, but it has been a quarter of a century since he has been through them himself.

“We used to take recruits over on a Sunday morning to break them in – it’s all good fun,” said the Sid Park Road resident.

“Training took me back to those days, but this time I’ll be going it alone.”

And he may not be the event’s oldest entrant – in 2011, 77-year-old former Olympic hurdler Max Boyes made it across the finish line.

Dave’s sponsorship will be shared between the event’s chosen charities, Devon Air Ambulance and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

To back his efforts, call him on 01395 516160.


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