Heavy downpour turned NATO competition at Mönchengladbach into mud-wrestling
The 33rd International Moenchengladbach Military Competition, the oldest regularly held contest of its kind in Europe, ended last weekend with a team of four German reservists from Marbach in the state of Hessen winning and two teams from Denmark taking positions 2 and 3, followed by the Kreisverbindungskommando Heinsberg of the German Forces, four active German Air Force soldiers from Schortens (Frisia) and the British Royal Military Police team from Sennelager (Westfalen): Sergeant Leigh Gray and the corporals Carl Parkin, Michael Gaughan and Anasa Takala.
A total of 120 starters from seven nations participated in this year’s IMM, which was organized by the German Army’s Landeskommando NRW and the Lower Rhine section of the Reservists’ Association. Among them: 32 British soldiers, active and reservists. Participants had set out from Portsmouth, Paris, Rome and other places to compete for and take home the much-desired winner’s cup donated by the German Minister of Defense, Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen. In her welcome address to the competitors Mrs von der Leyen had written: “Today it is more important than ever before that NATO partners should cooperate and learn from each other. Those who are sent on missions side by side must be able to blindly rely on their partners and perfectly know about each other’s capabilities. This is exactly why we cannot do without competitions like the IMM.”
„A challenging opportunity to compete against other nations, which our teams would happily go back on again. With events that challenge both mental and physical endurance“, Sergeant Craig Simpson from 102 MWD Sqn said. NATO did not drown in this turbulent competition, but came out soaking wet. Torrential rains turned the competition literally into an ugly mud-wrestling: the demanding THW obstacle course, usually a highlight of the contest, had to be closed for safety reasons – too much rain had soaked the ground so much that anchorings came loose.
At the First-Aid-Station, organized by the German Red Cross, competitors, supposedly heavily injured helpers, and passers-by secured the tent protecting them from the downpour against heavy squalls, and a thunderstorm threatened to bring the “Rafting” station to a temporary standstill. Wind and rain harassed the competitors, among whom there were 12 women from England, Denmark, the USA, and Germany, very badly on their 20-kilometre foot march through Moenchengladbach and Heinsberg territory. And on top of all of that swarms of mosquitos attacked the weary marchers at two stations in the Beecker Wald near Heinsberg.
And here are the British national champions: Team 21, British Army SIB RMP, Padernborn (active Soldiers), Team 5, 609 West Riding (reservists), Team 6 Spec Ops Regt Portsmouth (mixed male/female), It was not only soldiers that started in the competition, but also the Moenchengladbach Fire Brigade had a team: They reached a remarkable 7th place among the 30 teams, not to speak of the Cup for the best civilian team, which they could be sure of from the beginning since there were no other contestants in that category. Likewise Jayne Deering, Pauline Griffiths-Jeans, Samantha Manuel, and Gemma Pullen from Brize-Norton as the only female team could take home the traditional IMM Ladies’ Cup.