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Navy divers pack on pounds for fundraising turkey trot

Perry Officer First Class Mike Hales, is getting geared up for the fourth annual Fleet Diving Unit
Perry Officer First Class Mike Hales, is getting geared up for the fourth annual Fleet Diving Unit's Turkey Run. About 40 members of the unit will be running 35 kilometres in Langford and Colwood. The fundraiser helps fill Christmas hampers for 650 families on the West Shore.
— image credit: Charla Huber/News staff

Running for six hours can be a tough day, but with a 100-pound bomber suit it’s gruelling.

Petty Officer First Class Mike Hales, in the Fleet Diving Unit gears up for his fourth round of the unit’s annual Turkey Run, Nov. 30.

“It’s always hard, but as you get older it just gets harder,” said the 40-year-old. “Running in the bomber suit sucks, it’s the least desirable. You can only run for a little bit in it. Just running all day in a regular outfit it hard enough.”

About 40 divers from the unit will run to raise money to fill West Shore Christmas hampers with meat gift certificates again this year.

They begin the 35-kilometre run at the Colwood base and travel along Ocean Boulevard, through Belmont Park, down Sooke Road to Jacklin Road. The divers will stop at Original Joe’s for lunch before continuing on to Goldstream Avenue to Peatt Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway to Millstream Village and back to the base.

The runners alternate the equipment each is wearing as they run. The most heavy is the 100-pound bomber suit, followed by the 40-pound rebreathers and 30-pound helmets. The big, white Fleet Diving Unit bus accompanies them so participants can catch their breath or get a snack during the six-hour fundraiser.

“We get tons of support,” said Hales, adding many businesses in the community offer donations long before the run occurs.

Already the unit has collected $6,000.

Last year the run netted $22,000, well exceeding the $15,000 goal.

The target remains $15,000 this year, the amount required to supply a turkey or ham for all 650 Christmas hampers on the West Shore.

“Any extra goes towards purchasing gift cards for toys for the children,” said Navy Lt. Walter Dubeau, training officer with the dive unit.

In the first three years of the event the Fleet Dive Unit has raised $51,000 for the hamper fund.

“The Turkey Run is able to provide a turkey for every hamper we give out,” said Gayle Ireland, president of the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund. “We really appreciate all they do for the community.”

The Fleet Dive Unit’s fourth annual Turkey Run is Nov. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hot dog sales are planned for Everything Wine at Millstream Village, 131-2401C Millstream Rd., and the Belmont Park Fire Hall, Building No. 2 Belmont Rd. with Fleet Dive Unit items and information on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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