May 29th 2024

GB medalist praises Army Reserves for helping him reach the top of his game

Pte Carr during the 24-hour World Championships in Taiwan

A 40-year-old ultrarunner has credited the Army Reserves for helping him clinch a bronze medal on the world stage.

Private (Pte) Damian Carr was part of Great Britain’s triumphant team at last year’s 24-hour World Championships in Taipei, Taiwan.

For his part, Pte Carr ran 148 miles within the endurance event’s 24-hour time limit, shy of his personal best of 165 miles in a day.

Developing his mental resilience while being paid to keep fit through the Army Reserves has, according to the GB medallist, helped him reach the upper echelons of his gruelling sport and achieve his proudest accomplishment to date.

And he hopes this winning formula can lead him to even greater success in the years to come.


Running an ultramarathon – classed as anything over the distance of a marathon – is as tough as it sounds. Pte Carr doesn’t stop running for the full duration, so he eats on the go and doesn’t sleep.

At the 2023 World Championships, he burnt an estimated 16,500 calories and took on board food and water every 20 minutes to keep his energy levels up.

Pte Carr, who serves in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment, based out of Corby, said: “I don’t think of it as superhuman, I just love running and the uniqueness of the 24-hour challenge.

“You’ve got to be good at eating on the go, have an iron stomach, be mentally resilient and physically strong.

“I always say to myself: ‘Be humble, ground yourself’ because anything can happen, and that’s where people go wrong – they overcook it. I like that unknown, it’s quite exciting.”

Private Carr at the Corby ARC (6)

Private Damian Carr at Corby Army Reserve Centre.

Be the best

Pte Carr has long been a fitness enthusiast and originally joined the Armed Forces in 1999. Initially, as a full-time Regular Soldier, he left, re-joined as a Reservist with the Royal Anglian Regiment and was deployed to Iraq in 2003.

Reserve Forces play a critical role in national defence and security, from countering threats, peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts abroad, to supporting communities and national resilience at home. The Royal Naval Reserves, Royal Marines Reserve, Army Reserves, and RAF Reserves make up roughly 18% of Britain’s Armed Forces, and they’re actively recruiting.

After stepping away from the military in 2006, he started taking his fitness, especially his running, even more seriously.

Pte Carr, who lives in Kettering, said: “I loved fitness anyway but I got into running to keep my mind from overthinking.

“I remember one day I went for a run around the block and, before I knew it, I had run two villages out from where I lived – around 18 miles. Running is such a good distraction.

“In the Army, I liked pushing myself to the limit so I joined Coventry Athletics Club because they were known for being a good professional club. They also had Olympians like David Moorcroft and Bill Adcocks there which was really motivating.

“I was running 10km, half marathons and relays but I kept getting injured. I wanted to take the pressure off from hitting the pace for a while so when I saw an advert for a 24-hour race in a field near London I jumped at the chance.

“It was horrible – every lap you had to climb over a stile – but I did well. Before then the furthest I had run was 33 miles. On the day I ran over 120 miles.”

Pte Carr at the 2023 World Championships.

Pte Carr at the 2023 World Championships.

Competitive edge

Pte Carr said he had unfinished business with the British Army and re-joined the Reserves in 2021.

He had worked in gyms, the prison service and with young children, but said he missed “the camaraderie, the discipline and the respect” from service.

Crucially, he also believed the Army Reserves would help to give him a competitive edge.

“The support I’ve been getting has been really good,” said Pte Carr, a father of three who teaches bushcraft. “I’m being paid to train and stay fit, it’s helped my mental resilience, I’ve run – and won – cross country races for the Army and, financially, it’s enabled me to have time off work to focus on more training.”

Looking ahead, Pte Carr has his sights set on an even bigger goal. He said: “My next goal is the 2025 World Championships in Paris, France. I don’t just want to get there, I want to improve on the team medal we won and, individually, see what I can do.”

Pte Carr isn’t the only Reservist who has achieved sporting success. Royal Naval Reservist Sub-Lieutenant Afton Fitzhenry, of HMS Sherwood in Nottingham, won a canoeing bronze medal in the 2019 European Championships. Army Reservist Lance Corporal Jake Benson, of 160 (Lincoln) Squadron RLC, has also played cricket for the British Army all over the world.

Stuart Williams is the Chief Executive of East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, which exists to champion, support, and enable Reserves and Cadets in the region.

He added: “Sport is an important part of being a Reservist as it builds physical fitness, boosts morale and helps with unit and team cohesion.

“All Soldiers are supported to reach their full potential in both uniform and sports kit, and Pte Carr is an example of what can be achieved within the Army Reserve – selection to be a GB Athlete.

“Whether your sport is football or volleyball, Nordic skiing or squash, at an elite or beginner level, you will find plenty of opportunities in the Reserve Forces.”

Want to follow in Private Carr’s path? Find your closest Royal Naval, Royal Marines, Army, or RAF Reserves unit.