- An EOD soldier set a world record this month for running a mile in a 44kg bomb suit.
- She ran the mile in 10 minutes and 23 seconds, shattering the women’s record set in 2013.
- The record for men was set in 2017 by a British soldier who ran it in 7 minutes and 24 seconds.
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A US Army soldier set a Guinness World Record this month for the mile run in a bomb suit weighing almost 45kg, the service announced recently.
Wearing the heavy suit, Capt. Kaitlyn Hernandez, commander of the 717th Ordnance Company, 52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), shattered the previous record of 11 minutes and 6 seconds at the 2nd Annual Bomb Suit Run and Family 5K at George Mason University in Virginia on April 3.
Running a mile in a little over 10 minutes is not much of a challenge for most members of the armed forces, but running one in a bomb suit is a lot tougher.
The suits are designed to protect bomb-disposal technicians from explosive blasts at close range. They are hot and heavy and can be physically taxing.
The blast-proof body suit weighs 38kg, and the helmet weighs another 5kg.
Talking to the Army about her achievement, Hernandez said “the helmet’s definitely the worst part because if you’re leaning forward or backward, it’ll take your whole body with you.”
“You never know how the suit is going to affect you,” she said, adding: “Sometimes you’re feeling really great, and sometimes it punches you in the face. Windy days are pretty rough too, when you hit a headwind it feels like you’re running in mud.”
Hernandez said overcoming the challenges of the suit were largely mental. “It’s usually a split-second – any time I run and start feeling sorry for myself I just have to get over it and say it’s not that bad,” she said.
Sorenson “was able to give me some advice – just to try and stay calm and remember it’s only four more laps,” Hernandez said. “Once somebody put that in perspective, in my head I knew that I only had to run four more laps, and for the rest of my life it’s done.”
Hernandez’s efforts were supported by the veteran-owned nonprofit Headstrong, which provides mental-health support for veterans and their families and backed the Navy SEAL veteran Sean Matson’s attempts to set a men’s bomb-suit mile-run record before a leg injury took him out of the competition.
The record for men, as Task & Purpose notes, was set in 2017 by the British soldier Mark Gibbs, who completed the run in 7 minutes and 24 seconds. He also ran a half-marathon in a full bomb suit, completing the event in 2 hours and 23 minutes.
Reflecting on her impressive run in discussions with the Army, Hernandez said that “as soon as it was done it was kind of a whirlwind, so I didn’t really have a chance to take it in at first.”
“But I was very happy and excited,” she continued. “The whole process has just been great.”