Afghanistan veteran with medals and child
19 June 2014

Army Reservist sets himself 529 mile challenge in memory of fallen comrade

Ten years after his comrade lost his life in Afghanistan, Darren sets himself 529 mile challenge in his memory and in aid of SSAFA.

Army Reservist sets himself 529 mile challenge in memory of fallen comrade- SSAFA

In 2004, Private Jonathan Kitulagoda, or 'Kit' as he was known, tragically lost his life, and four others were injured, when his vehicle was hit by a suicide bomb attack whilst on patrol in Kabul.

Now, 10 years on, one of his comrades Darren Hatch, who was serving in Kabul with Kit at the time, is taking on what can only be described as an incomprehensible challenge, running and cycling 529 miles in memory of Kit and in aid of SSAFA.

Darren explains, “As Kit died at age 23, I am running 23 miles for every year of Kit’s life totaling 529 miles. I started this on the 28th January 2014 to mark the 10th anniversary of Kit’s death and to raise funds for SSAFA the oldest military charity out there.”

“I will finish on the 28th January 2015.”

Kit, who was just 23 when he died, was originally from Bedfordshire and was at university in Plymouth. He'd joined the Rifles Volunteer Battalion (Devon and Dorset) as a reservist.

Darren continues, “I had the pleasure to serve along side Kit. He was the kind of bloke you could not say a bad word about. A true gentleman in every sense.”

"Kit was a top bloke; you could always count on him. If a job needed doing, he'd be the first to put his hand up and volunteer."

Now Darren wants to do something for Kit's family and friends to show that he'll never be forgotten.

Whilst Darren now maintains his Reservist commitment to Military Provost Staff (Army Reserve), in his civilian life he is a health and social care professional.

"Given my background, I was immediately attracted to SSAFA. I was really impressed by the health and social care services that they deliver to military families all over the world and I also wanted to support the work they do with serving and veterans held in custody, through their Prison In-reach service.”

“SSAFA really is there for the entire military community, in whichever way your life circumstances might change.”

So far Darren has completed 184 miles of his 529 and raised £2,238.00, smashing his target of £2,000.

He has received amazing support from friends and family and will be joined by nine loyal friends for the Birmingham half marathon. They will also be fundraising for SSAFA and will collectively be known as Team529.

To show your support for Darren and SSAFA, visit his fundraising page.

Catch Darren around the country throughout the year. His epic line up includes:

- Brighton Marathon - Army kit. Boots, combats and 30lb pack on back: Completed
- Milton Keynes Marathon: Completed
- 50 mile challenge - 52.4 miles in under 15hrs: 13 July 2014
- Severn Bridge Half Marathon: 24 August 2014
- Catterick Paras10 - 10 Miles: 31 August 2014
- Bristol half marathon: 21st September 2014
- Great Birmingham Run - Army kit. Boots, combats and 30lb pack on back: 19 October 2014
- Plymouth 10k: 2 November 2014

With more races still to be added!