Karl Hinett joined the army at the age of 17, leaving the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick with the ‘Best Recruit’ award. Aged just 19 years old, on September 2005 whilst serving in The Staffordshire Regiment in Basra, Iraq he was involved in a serious attack when his Warrior tank received a direct hit from a petrol bomb and as a result, Karl received 37% burns to his hands, legs, arms and face. The photograph of him as a ‘human fireball’ shocked many and became an iconic image of the Iraq conflict. Following his injury, Karl spent a lot of time at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK and grew to love the staff at the hospital and the amazing care he received. He has had over 50 operations and, following his last surgery in 2010, decided to dedicate a few years to fundraise for the medical staff who helped save and rebuild his life. He has since run over 145 marathon and ultra-marathon races around the globe, including the North Pole and Antarctica.
Karl will be running the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon for Heads Together, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s campaign to change the national conversation on mental health. We caught up with him during a break in training…
Q. We hear you’re really into running and have completed a pretty big number of marathons. How did you get into running?
I first started long distance running as a way of recovery, after injury during my time in Basra, Iraq with the British Army, I knew I needed another focus. What started as a therapy turned into a much loved hobby, and to date I have managed to run 149 official marathons and ultra marathons.
Q. How has running helped you with your recovery and rehabilitation?
Running played such a huge part in my recovery because I came from such an active and intense job role, to being virtually bed bound with no independence. Running was a way of reclaiming that independence, because regardless of how far or how fast I ran, I felt empowered. Long distances became a favourite which encouraged my motivation. I started to run marathon events and after my five years of surgery was over, I ran 100 official marathons across the globe in two years. Now qualified as a Personal Trainer, running is still a huge part of my training, and I believe that this simple, easily accessible and often overlooked sport helped me so much that want to bring it to the WIS community, in the hope that it can help others like it helped me.
Q. You’ve set up Team Endeavour Running Club – why did you decide to do this and how is it helping wounded, injured and sick Service personnel?
Team Endeavour Running Club was set up in the hope that my experiences could be passed on to other wounded, injured and sick service personnel. Everyone who’s a runner knows that those first few months can be difficult getting into running, regardless of personal circumstances, but we hope together with shared knowledge and experiences we can encourage other members of the WIS community to take up running, and to reap the benefits it can give both physically and mentally.
Q. You’re taking on the London Marathon as part of Team Heads Together – can you tell us a bit about that?
I’m very honoured to be taking on the London marathon as part of Team Heads Together. Heads Together is the charity of the year for the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon, making this the mental health marathon. Everyone can at some point be affected, or know someone that will suffer with a mental health condition. I’m happy to be a part of this movement, in the hope to change the conversation on mental health.
Q. Heads Together is a campaign hoping to change the national conversation on mental health – how does sport and running help people deal with mental health issues?
Sport and running can have amazing benefits to mental health and fitness. Not only do they give the participant a focus and a goal, there is also a huge sense of community. I can personally say, that without running, I wouldn’t be here today.
Q. How can people support the amazing work you’re doing?
People can support us here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/KarlandIvan. Any support is gratefully received!
Find out more about Karl on the Heads Together website.