Two Portsmouth Gyms Team up and Log More than Five Million Meters for Veterans with PTSD

November 9, 2023 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit Choice
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Karl Thorpe has too many military friends who have committed suicide because their trauma was too unbearable. 

As a result, he and his business partner, Paul Ormston, at CrossFit Choice in Portsmouth, UK, have long been committed to raising awareness for PTSD, and to spreading the message that, “It’s OK to not be OK,” Thorpe explained.

Most recently, Thorpe and Ormston, both veterans, thought they’d try to get another gym involved in their efforts, and they figured who better than CrossFit Portsmouth Spartan Kettlebell Club, located nearly 4,000 miles away in Portsmouth, OH. And it just so happened that the owner Dale King was also a military veteran and “was doing some cool things in his hometown,” Thorpe explained.

So Thorpe reached out to King to see if he wanted to team up and host a charity fundraiser together that would also challenge their members more than they had ever been before.

  • “The challenge had to be tough and it had to be long, and we wanted those who took part to question why they were doing what they were doing,” Thorpe said.

The result: Challenge participants had to suffer on a Concept 2 machine of their choice—either the rowing ergometer, the Ski Erg or the Bike Erg—for one hour at a time in a one-hour on, one-hour off format, until all participants together had covered the distance for them to meet up at the midpoint between their two gyms somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

  • They were expecting it to take close to two days, but at the end of the 20 hours on October 27, the two gyms had logged 5,158,440 meters between them and had successfully completed the task, raising £1945 (USD$2,400) in the process, which they donated to one UK-based veteran charity (All Call Signs) and one USA-based charity (50 For The Fallen).

The big picture: Being military veterans themselves, the three gym owners’ intentions were to create an environment so challenging that their members wanted to give up, an environment where they would quit if it weren’t for those around them supporting them and encouraging them to keep going. Needless to say, they succeeded.

  • For some of our members this is the toughest event they have encountered and the longest single bout of exercise they have performed,” Thorpe said.

He added: “It was extremely humbling to watch our community put themselves in uncomfortable situations to be part of something bigger than themselves for a cause that is very close to our hearts. I’m so proud of the effort of our community. Together, we’ve shown what can be achieved when we come together for a meaningful cause.”

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