1 CAD team recognized for their efforts to support Soldier On

May 20, 2022 - Royal Canadian Air Force

Emily Lindahl, D Air PA

On March 23, 2022 the Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division (1 CAD), Major General Kenny, presented five members of 1 CAD with his coin. This gesture recognized the efforts of the small team, who raised more than $10,000 for Soldier On over the past two years. Their activity; a 4x4x48 ultra‑fitness event.

What is the 4x4x48?

The 4x4x48 challenge is an ultra-fitness event which was started about three years ago by an ex-Navy Seal, David Goggins. Goggins is an ex-military, ultra-athlete and author who is most famous for his self-help/motivational book, “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.” He started this challenge as a way for people around the world to test their mental and physical fortitude all while raising funds for charity.

The challenge

The challenge itself consists of completing 4 miles (6.4 km [or the equivalent]) every 4 hours for 48 hours. This equates to 12 legs of activity (i.e. running, cycling, walking, rowing or any other fitness activity). Goggins coordinates the event virtually through social media platforms (i.e. Facebook and Instagram) in order to connect participants from across the globe. There is no cost for the event and no mandatory/minimum amount required to raise.

Game plan

The event took place from 4–6 March, 2022. The Royal Canadian Air Force team raised funds for the charity Soldier On through a Go Fund Me page which participants posted on their social media profiles. One of last year’s participants, Capt Shelley Simms, was posted to Borden over the past year, and she worked to form a team there.

Our team

Our team consisted of 7 people:

  • Maj Mike Duong (A4 Log)
  • Maj Teesha Wheaton-Sparkes (A4 Log)
  • Capt Rebecca Wheaton-Sparkes (A2)
  • Capt Shelley Simms (was in A4 Log posted to 16 Wing)
  • Capt Stephane Rodrigue (A4 Log)
  • Sgt Caro Rodrigue (38 Svc Bn)
  • Tryshia Colquhoun (A4 Log)

Last year during the work from home COVID environment, this event gave all of participants some much needed release/relief through physical training, and kept their spirits high. Each team member did their legs from home, but created a WhatsApp group chat in order to encourage each other during work-up training as well as during the actual event. As such, the teammates formed quite a unique bond despite not ever running together. The 2021 team raised over $4,000 for Solider On, simply through a web link set-up for them by the organization.

Going forward

For 2022, the team had set their sights on bigger and better goals, however, continued COVID restrictions and global events sidelined their plans. But there’s always next year!

In the end, the participants were able to raise a grand total of $5,544.50 for this year’s event.

"I encourage everyone to try this event in 2023; it really opens your mind and soul," shared Major Teesha Wheaton-Sparkes. "At the end of the day, the support we received and the funds raised for Soldier On were more than worth the sweat and pain felt by our bodies."

In 2023, the teams hopes to recruit more 1 CAD members. Directorates can choose how they would like to participate, whether it’s forming a team or via donating. Members have the option of joining individually and take on the challenge themselves, or they can participate as a relay team taking on various legs. The team would also like to see more Wings involvement. Members of this year’s team plan to personally reach out to their networks to ask for OPIs to organize a plan at their respective Wings.

Fun facts about the team

  • Capt Shelly Simms recruited a team in Borden and they ran with us this year. We even had a little one put up behind her mother who did a Ruck March for one of the legs!
  • Maj Teesha Wheaton-Sparkes ran on the treadmill because Rebecca is too tall, Teesha was looking for new feet at the end of the 12 legs this year!
  • Sgt Caroline Rodrigue and Capt Stephane Rodrigue were wrestling to see who would do the event this year, talk about the warrior’s mentality!
  • Capt Rebecca Wheaton-Sparkes rowed the entire time this year, her hands were in rough shape so much that at one point she considered taping her hands to the handle!
  • Trysh Colquhoun is Col Spott’s Administratice Assistant and put on an invisible uniform the weekend of our event and was one of us, biking, running and rowing her way to the finish line.
Seven people standing together after a military coin presentation.

MGen Kenny (far left) with members of the 2022 4x4x48 team (from left to right): Maj Mike Duong, Maj Teesha Wheaton-Sparkes, Capt Rebecca Wheaton-Sparkes, Capt Steph Rodrique, Tryshia Colquhoun, and CWO Campbell.

Image gallery

A woman with a young child on her back.

This challenge was truly inspiring. I did it with a partner and we ran alternatively. It was such a journey, we were keeping each other motivated all the time and shared pictures and time. When we were done, my partner said that he was listening to a podcast with David Goggins and that he said something that described us pretty well: “I want to be uncommon amongst uncommon people”.

Capt Vanessa Robert

A man riding a bicycle outside in the snow.

This year’s 4x4x48 was challenging in a different way for me as it was very difficult to devote the time to organize, train and even execute. COVID last year in some ways helped with managing work and family commitments however with everything that has changed and is changing this year I had to leverage my team to help make this event another success.

Maj Mike Duong 

A man holding his young daughter.

Last year was the first time I ever tried to attempt an event like this and this year knowing that I had that experience in my back pocket made it much more mentally achievable, I was stronger because I was harden by last years’ experience. This is the whole point of the 4x4x48 in my opinion; to go out there and fight or challenge yourself when you don’t think you can or when you don’t even want to. The human mind and body is incredible and when you put your efforts and energy towards a goal with commitment and vindication, anything is possible. I’m very happy we exceeded our goal to Soldier On this year, the donations and good that we are giving back to this charity is the pot of gold. It emphasizes doing the right things for the right reasons!

Maj Mike Duong 

A collage of members, fundraising goal, and map.

This was my second year completing the 4x4x48 challenge and it did not get any easier! The weather was cold, wet and icy for many of the runs and it took a lot of motivation to get up and run outside at night. The challenge is physically and mentally exhausting and there is little time to rest when you have three small children. However, seeing other team members running around the base during the same time was great and somehow made the challenge a little easier. Knowing that other members were completing the challenge with me provided much needed support and motivation to keep pushing through the exhaustion and discomfort. Our team in Borden and the team in Winnipeg supported each other along the way through constant communication in our WhatsApp chat. It was a great opportunity to not only challenge ourselves, but to also support a great cause by fundraising for Soldier On.

Capt Shelley Simms (bottom right image)

A woman standing in front of exercise equipment giving the thumb's up gesture.

Participating in the 4x4x48 challenge again this year was a blast! Our team initially intended to elaborate on the event this year and recruit more team members across the CAF. We had a detailed plan of what we wanted to do, however, because of recent global events, time was not in our favor. However, we adjusted, modified our plan and executed it flawlessly. We were still able to increase participation as well as surpass our lofty fundraising goal. Our team’s success truly speaks to the dedication and drive of our CAF members when it comes to adapt and overcome! This challenge is extra special to me as it happens on my birthday. It really means a lot to be able to do something so mentally and physically demanding with teammates who share my same goals and motivation. I’m so proud of my friends and family who stepped up and participated with me and who donated to this great cause!  

Capt Rebecca Wheaton-Sparkes

A woman on a treadmill with two dogs.

This was my second year doing this challenge, and it didn’t get any easier ;-), but it does continue to get more rewarding. Many CAF members suffer from physical and mental health challenges, and certainly the past two years in a COVID environment hasn’t helped that.

Maj Teesha Wheaton-Sparkes with Dingo and Tilley

Two women, one in front of the other.

Captain Rebecca Wheaton-Sparkes and Major Teesha Wheaton-Sparks

A woman on an elliptical machine.

My husband took part in the 4x4x48 in 2021 and I wanted to do the challenge with him this year. Unfortunately since we have a 6 year old who needs an adult well rested, Stephane decided to be on the sideline to support me and take care of Liam.

Sgt Caro Rodrigue

A woman on a rowing machine.

It was an intense experience physically and mentally. At the beginning I was not sure how I would react with the fatigue settling in, but I am glad to know I reached the end. Thanks to my husband for his support, as well as to the team for letting me be part of this!

Sgt Caro Rodrigue


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