Embracing technology has helped the sport and recreation team in HMAS Cerberus plan and hold events in a COVID-19 safe environment. 

The 'relay for lockdown' fitness challenge took place this month with teams from each of the training schools and base faculties competing in a 10-hour running event. 

Teams that travelled the furthest collective distance earned points towards the annual McCarthy Cup.

The McCarthy Cup is a perpetual award, where the different training schools and base faculties earn points in a series of fitness, health and wellbeing challenges throughout the year.

To help monitor each competitor and meet the requirements of physical distancing throughout the event, organisers used the smartphone app 'Strava'.

The app uses GPS-enabled devices to track and record fitness activities like running and cycling. It also allows for multi-competitor events such as marathons or group bike rides to be registered and provide individual and group achievements.

Event organiser Leading Seaman Louis Tanner said precise planning and adaptability were of the important to keep the event within state-government guidelines.

“Participating in competitive team-based challenges has many social, physical and mental health benefits,” Leading Seaman Tanner said.

“We planned this event as an enjoyable occasion that aligned with social distancing and hygiene regulations and gave our personnel the chance to develop and maintain their fitness, resilience and increased mental health awareness.”

This was an excellent event to be a part of and it was great to see smiles on people’s faces after a tough few months here in Victoria.

In total, 11 teams covered 1519km throughout the 10-hour event, with the winning team, the Boatswains Faculty, achieving a total distance of 171.9km.

Teams from the Marine Engineering School and the Defence Force School of Signals – Maritime Wing finished in second and third place.

Team captain for the Defence Force School of Signals – Maritime Wing Able Seaman Liam Bromley said he enjoyed competing in the event.

“It was great to see so many people of varying ages, trainees and staff, participating in a team running event,” Able Seaman Bromley said.

“This was an excellent event to be a part of and it was great to see smiles on people’s faces after a tough few months here in Victoria.”

Cerberus provides training for all three services with about 6000 ADF personnel undergoing training annually. They are supported by up to 800 instructors, admin and support staff with about 1800 people at the base at any one time.

The global pandemic and imposed restrictions have resulted in the establishment adapting to cohort-distanced training, allowing it to continually prepare future forces for the RAN. 

Commanding Officer Cerberus Captain Mike Oborn said being adaptable to changing circumstances was a trait often experienced by ADF personnel.

“I am proud of the team at Cerberus, whose professional approach has been able to adapt and deliver all training outcomes in a controlled, safe and socially-distanced environment,” Captain Oborn said.

“Events such as this particular team challenge remind us that we can select certain activities that keep us moving forward and then adapt them to be safe, fun and support our own and each other’s mental health needs.”